Are School Sports Pushing Kids to Specialize?
By Guest Contributor, Jesse Rentfrow
This article originally appeared on travelbaseballrankings.com.
Are school sports pushing kids to specialize? The pressure school sports are putting on our athletes is increasing, but since I’m a travel baseball dad and website owner, first, let’s discuss the elephant in the room about travel/club sports. Everything I mention below also applies to club/travel sports. I have also known very demanding club/travel sports coaches that are pushing athletes to specialize. My advice to you is to find a travel team that works with and promotes multiple sports. There are plenty of these coaches out there.
I know I am at risk of sounding like a get-off-my-lawn type, but I am not the only one that feels this way. The demands by many school sports teams and coaches are unreasonable to the point that it’s pushing kids away from the sports they love. These “non-mandatory” camps, practices, workouts, etc., are propped up with words like “commitment” and “work ethic” as if the kids wanting to play their seasonal sport do not have the same level of work ethic.
A couple of days after school was released, many schools around the country started camps, workouts, and practices for football, basketball, soccer, cheer, and more. Some will go all summer long, and some have picked their Varsity team based on these workouts. There are a few problems I have with this:
- Let kids enjoy the summer. They were just cooped up in school for nine months, and now you want them to come back to the place they clearly need a break from.
- Let the kids play what is in season. When I was younger, when school was out, it was out. Fall sports resumed in August, a few weeks before school started. Summer was enjoyed by all.
- It isn’t helping their skill level. Contrary to what coaches believe, it is burning them out and causing more injuries.
- In much of the Midwest and Northeast, baseball season has just started. The majority of the high school season is a rainy, cold mess in northern states. There is a common misconception that travel baseball coaches are the problem. From my experience, they embrace the multi-sport athlete.
- Parents need a break too! The rigors of driving kids and coordinating schedules can take their toll on parents and kids alike.
- Very skilled athletes are being forced into specializing because of the “off-season” demands.
What do we do as parents? I leave it up to my kids. I don’t tell them no, but I empower them to make the decision if they want to go or not. Parents shouldn’t fall into the “fear of missing out” group and be pressured by others. Let your kids decide what they want to do, and also let them know there is no pressure from you. My theory for any summer workout is that you can go to or miss whatever you want because, well…
It is Summer Time!
Jesse Rentfrow is a baseball, track, gymnastics, cheer, and basketball dad who also owns travelbaseballrankings.com.
More great articles like this one: