A ten-year old student in an ELA class at one of my schools was asked to provide an argument for something he felt strongly about. He chose a sports related topic. This is what he wrote, unedited.
Parents, teachers, coaches and kids! I call on you to change the policy that kids have to try out for sports. It’s wrong to not let kids join sports because it hurts their self-esteem, because it builds a nasty sense of competition and because all kids deserve to play if they want.
Some pooh-pooh the idea that a kids self-esteem gets hurt but how do you think it makes us feel? I’ll tell you how it feels, it feels TERRIBLE. It feels lie everyone is staring at us , feeling sorry for us. It makes us wonder if we’ll ever be good enough. The truth is our school, coaches or parents don’t think we’re good enough to participate. They’re supposed to make you feel stronger or better, not destroy your self-esteem and confidence.
Not allowing other kids to join sports also makes kids competitive with each other. In one survey, 18 out of 20 kids said they would rather make the team than stay friends with each other. In an interview with a student who made the team, this article said, “I really don’t hang out with any of my friends now who didn’t make the team. They don’t have the shirt we have. I don’t know, I just don’t see them any more. You might think competition brings out the best in kids and maybe it does when they’re older but in elementary school it makes kids mean and lonely.”
The most important reason not to make cuts is that all kids deserve to play. For goodness sakes!!!! We’re nine and ten years old. Isn’t this the time we should be learning skills, getting stronger and having fun? A lot of people say it’s just sports, that’s how it is. But we’re not pro ball players. All of us deserve a chance to get better.
Change this policy, please. Give us the fast legs and strong bodies we deserve. Let us all be the athlete we want to be.
Interesting discussion topic.
I have three daughters who played multiple sports through high school and I coached basketball and softball for quite a few years.
But it was a very different time in terms of youth sports. It was not all-consuming and I could probably write a short book on the strong feelings I have about children and the parents and coaches who affect their lives.
The immersion and consumption of time in sports today at a very early age has to be witnessed in order to be understood. I think the biggest fear for me is how it affects families and the time they spend together.
It’s time that will never be returned to them and it passes so very quickly.
I understand that making cuts as it relates to some teams are the nature of sports and I think some kids learn from these disappointments, but some things this student said are pretty sad; specifically about the interaction between kids who make teams and those who don’t, and what competition brings out in children.
At younger ages, it should never be about the score. Who wins is irrelevant. How good you are at 8-9-10, is irrelevant. We’ve all seen stars at ten who burn out or fall behind others as they get older; stars at ten years old who never play a high school game. Coaches and parents lose sight of the fact that young children who choose to play sports should, as this child mentions, focus on basic skills and development, not winning and losing. Can both be accomplished? Of course. But all too often one takes control of the other. It’s the nature of the beast.
Most importantly, children at that age should be having fun. Sadly, and all too often, that simple goal is not part of a parent or coaches mindset.
Children should be allowed to be children and families should be allowed to enjoy those few precious years together.
Sports is a great outlet and competition is healthy as long as both are done intelligently and balanced properly.
I was going to conclude by saying that I hope this young man figures it out and finds sports to be a positive experience, but it’s really not his decision, is it?
So I hope the adults in his life figure it out and provide this child with a positive experience. Lord knows our children can use all the positive experiences they can get.
Unfortunately, it’s not always provided by those who have the opportunity to do so.