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More family time, less sports

Here’s to more in 2017, and also to less.

This year I hope we bring back kids in the backyard, on their bikes until dusk, neighborhood games of capture the flag and kickball down in the court. Bring back homemade skateboarding half pipes, toys without buttons or batteries, sidewalk chalk drawings, homemade bubbles, and made up games. Bring back reading stories cuddled up in bed together instead of ipads reading them so they learn to read earlier. Bring back play clothes without brand tags that can get dirty or stained as much as they want.

I hope the youth sports business empire continues to bank on the vulnerability of parents. I hope that it then goes bankrupt because parents choose instead to invest in real life-affecting activities for their kids like family time instead of false promises. I hope that the investment in elite sports being pushed as necessary is finally seen for what it is. That somehow the value of spending time together, talking (about anything other than their teams) and sharing adventures will become the most important thing instead of a relationship pressured to be built on coaching, teaching skills with unreachable expectations, and incessant training. Bring back our weekends at home or going on fun day trips to parks, museums, hiking trails, or the pool. Bring back family home cooked dinners, Saturday afternoon barbeques, Sunday morning brunch, Saturday morning sleeping in and cartoons.

Bring back after school sports for fun, with no agenda, with no mention of college or scholarships, or requirements for year round training.  Bring back opportunities for kids who aren’t elite to fall in love with games, fitness, competition. Bring back sanity. Bring back the value of growing kids up to be confident, able, hard working, well-rounded adults through their own trial and errors, through their own problem solving skills, through risk and adventure. Bring back working through disappointments instead of avoiding them at all costs. Bring back getting muddy, making memories, failing, learning, and then washing up and coming back smarter. Bring back affordable options, play time, intramurals. Bring back balance, were we can have sports and a life and some money left over to enjoy it.

As we venture into the new year, my hope for the current generation and the next, is that we can tune out the sales pitches, the comparisons, the promises, the temptations to let sports become the main focus in our kids and our family’s lives. I’ve been there. As a coach I’m there even more- with my 3 kids plus my own teams. I find myself caught up and letting sports be a part of 6 to 7 days a week for much of the year. I love sports, that’s not the problem. But I get burned out, my kids get burned out, we get tired.  Often the kids don’t know any different because it’s become the new normal of our culture today. Kids are losing the ability to play, just go outside and play. Game to game to practice to tournament. Family vacations centered around where the tournaments will be this summer.  My goal is to slow down and focus on sharing more with my family this year that isn’t on grass, courts, and turf. I have one about to graduate, another headed in to his senior year and my youngest getting ready for high school. Time is ticking away and I don’t want them to miss any of it because they had to be at their sport all the time. I want to give them more, and also give them less.

Many wonderful wishes for a fun fulfilled 2017, with some great sports fun, and hopefully a balance with a lot of other things too!

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