Sports have played a significant role in my life through the years. I have learned how to function as part of a team. I have been pushed toward greater success by the constructive criticism of coaches. I have learned how to live a healthy, active lifestyle. I have learned to follow through on commitments even when I would rather quit.
Because I value these types of growth experiences, our kids have regularly participated in youth sports. But there are also a number of pitfalls to avoid:
- Don’t specialize too early. There is a growing push to play one sport “year round.” But increasingly this leads to burnout and overuse injuries.
- Don’t expect your child to receive a sports scholarship. Many spend heavily on youth sports banking on a scholarship. When it comes to scholarships, you would be better off hiring an academic tutor!
- Don’t allow sports to take priority over your faith. You can say that Jesus and his church are most important. But your schedule will tell the real story. Be up front with your child and your coaches regarding your convictions in this regard.
- Make sure you count the cost. Sure there is the financial cost of many sports leagues. But there is also time spent away from home, meals on the road, missed family reunions, the disconnect with neighborhood kids, etc.
- Don’t forget that you are the parent. Your child might want to play travel sports. They might want to play one sport year round as a 1st grader. But you as a parent have to make the decision regarding what is ultimately best for them.
- Don’t be naïve. Youth sports is a business. It is flattering to hear that they want your child to play year round or to join the premiere travel team. But understand that this means more money for them. Don’t let a business control your life and dictate your priorities.
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