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Kids age 6-12 may be playing less organized sports because...

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Replies to: Kids age 6-12 may be playing less organized sports because...

  • Sue22Sue22 6110 replies108 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Honestly, one of the reasons we sent our kids to private schools was that all kids are required to play sports. That means there's always a team for your kids even if they're not a superstar. I find it sad that kids at our LPS who have loved their sports are often frozen out by sophomore year.

    I didn't even start playing my main sport until high school and ended up All-American. That would never happen these days.

    I also played a variety of other sports in which I had no talent, but I developed the skill and confidence to feel like I can play them as an adult. That to me is one of the main values of team sports- the sense of oneself as a physically able being.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 12
    iaparent wrote: »
    Our high school, in an effort to combat the varsity coaches telling people not to try out if they are not on certain clubs (not just clubs but the right clubs), has created additional teams. Freshman year there are A and B teams. The A team is the kids from the right clubs and the B team is everyone else. They then move to a JV team, a JV 2 team, and a varsity team. When you are a sophomore, and from the right club you are either on JV or varsity. Once you have been assigned to the JV2 team you know you will never be on another team, it is the landing spot for those without the right club background.

    Why would the coaches use participation in the club teams, as opposed to actual tested skills in the sport, to build rosters? Yes, in the latter case, the club players would have an advantage, but it would leave the door at least a little open for those not in club teams, and would allow the coaches to find talented players whose parents were unable or unwilling to pay for club teams.

    The way you describe how things work, it would be like an elite college admitting only those from specific private high schools and not giving any others even a chance to show their academic or other excellence.
    edited August 12
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22414 replies14 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think public rec programs and smaller private programs (like CYA, YMCA, or private non-travel clubs) are still alive and going strong. My kids played in those and in the catholic school league (basketball and volleyball) through their school, as did almost every kid in their school. You aren't going to the Olympics if you are in the $5/wk gymnastic class, but there still is a lot of fun to be had.

    We did 'do' soccer for 3-4 year olds. ONCE. It was terrible and my kids never played soccer again.

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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 1935 replies26 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    "Our high school, in an effort to combat the varsity coaches telling people not to try out if they are not on certain clubs (not just clubs but the right clubs), has created additional teams. Freshman year there are A and B teams."

    This happened at our high school, except sports is so prevailent that some club players found themselves on the B-team. The folks who got shut out are the recreational players. DD would love to fit in a game here or there. She is not into sports, but would do a recreational sport that didn't require 20 hours a week of practice. The recreational/intermural sports are now "in name only". The high school SAYS they offer them, and DD is signed up to get the notifications. However, the notifications never come. When I asked why not, I was told that both gyms are fully booked all year long by the sports teams. I swore that if I ever won a giant lottery I would donate a gym to the school, but stipulate they restrict it's access to only PE classes and recreational games.
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  • iaparentiaparent 264 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus I agree however that is the way they run the programs. I think in most cases the high school coaches are involved with the club programs and know what they will have years in advance. There is the occasional kid that is noticed on the B team because he or she did not play for the right club that gets moved "up" but those are rare.
    I am a bit jaded by this as it goes deeper than just the right club thing as we discovered with my oldest son in soccer. My son played for the right club, was the top keeper in his class (and the class above him) and was on the A team his freshman year. He had known the varsity coach for years and they got along great, he thought he was set up for a great high school career. His sophomore year he was placed on the dreaded JV2 team and was devastated. He went to talk to the varsity coach and was told "you are great but I don't want to get your hopes up. You would be second string varsity now but the freshman class is a team that has played together forever and they will all be moving to varsity together next year and their keeper will be the starter. Your senior year the current 8th graders have a good keeper as well so you would be 3rd string as a senior, I want to make sure you get to play for the next 3 years so I have you on JV2." He went on to say "the current freshman team will win state their junior and senior years and if the ball bounces right their sophomore year as well so we have to keep them together."
    My son played JV2 that year and never played soccer again, despite being good enough to start for most teams in the state. The coach was right, that group of kids did win 3 straight state titles but it came at the expense of my son's class and the class behind him. A bunch of kids paid they money, played for the right clubs growing up to be shoved aside by a group of kids that had played together since they were 6 years old. The club coach for that wonder team -- the varsity coach's brother. He hand picked his son's friends at age 6 and built them for a high school team.

    I am interested to see what happens this year, the first year after they have graduated. There has not been much to develop the next crop of players because they went all in on that one class so it could all come crashing down.
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1262 replies4 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Having gone through this with 2 recruited athletes, I have to say the whole professionalism of youth sports is a pretty sad state of affairs. Unless your kid is a genetic freak , if your child is serious about playing sports in college, you have to "play the recruiting game", which for many sports involves participation in club/travel teams. The recruiting budget for non-revenue sports, especially for D3 programs is pretty limited. It is so much more time and cost effective for the coaches to attend tournaments/showcases/camps. While many showcases/camps are pure pay to play, others are by invite only, which usually requires a tie in to a club/travel team.

    This system often exploits the families who can least afford it. We knew of many families who were scraping by to put their kids on a club/travel team, chasing a scholarship and a dream, often the parents'. It didn't matter that we were talking non-headcount sports and at best the kid, if he/she got a scholarship, would get a 1/4 or 1/2. I tried to go through the math with these families, and pointing out that there was more money in FA and merit aid if they could get their kids' grades up and prepared for college. Not much luck there. The system benefits affluent families like ours, where it gave us potentially an additional admissions edge, on top of all of the other advantages of growing up in an affluent, stable and education focused household. My kids loved their sports, and they got so much more out of it than chasing a college career. However, often I wished they spent the summers like I did, riding bikes, swimming, hiking, golfing, playing tennis, working PT, playing Risk and just goofing off. It's just not possible anymore if you want to play at high level sports.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 12
    iaparent wrote: »
    I am a bit jaded by this as it goes deeper than just the right club thing as we discovered with my oldest son in soccer. My son played for the right club, was the top keeper in his class (and the class above him) and was on the A team his freshman year. He had known the varsity coach for years and they got along great, he thought he was set up for a great high school career. His sophomore year he was placed on the dreaded JV2 team and was devastated. He went to talk to the varsity coach and was told "you are great but I don't want to get your hopes up. You would be second string varsity now but the freshman class is a team that has played together forever and they will all be moving to varsity together next year and their keeper will be the starter. Your senior year the current 8th graders have a good keeper as well so you would be 3rd string as a senior, I want to make sure you get to play for the next 3 years so I have you on JV2."

    Was your son a better keeper than the ones whom he got passed over for? If so, then the coach was not making player selection by actual ability the way that one would think that a coach who wants to win would make player selection.

    Perhaps this is just an early lesson that meritocracy often isn't. He will encounter similar kinds of things in the future (legacy preference in college admissions, nepotism in job hiring, etc.).
    edited August 12
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  • momocarlymomocarly 851 replies7 postsRegistered User Member
    We did have out kids in organized sports from an early age. My D hated school but loved sports and when we were trying to figure out how to keep her focused and working with doctors and therapist we found the nights she participated in organized sports she was better at school (even better when just playing outside). For her sports, club and varsity soccer, varsity track and cross country were the only things that got her through high school and helped her cope with her mental illness. She still plays soccer in local rec teams.
    S just loved to play sports. It was his thing. He wasn't great but just loved it. We told him he could quit but he kept playing. He chose to quit baseball and basketball after middle school and football and golf after his freshman year and swapped to playing polo. He now plays all sorts of intramural sports in college and loves that he can join in almost any team and have fun!
    I have seen the parents that drag their kids to sports that don't want to be there. Enough! Two months of dance was enough for my daughter to see it wasn't for her, one week of ice hockey and my S said no way! Neither liked gymnastics and D hated cheer. They tried things and found what they liked. I don't regret taking them to sports but no travel teams here. We did limited travel with D's club team but only for playoffs or a couple of tournaments.
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  • iaparentiaparent 264 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus Good question. At the time of the decision yes he was better, long term he probably would have been passed up by the kid a year behind him. The kid ended up growing to about 6'5" and signed a NLI to play basketball with a team that has recently been in the final four; he was a heck of an athlete.

    The silver lining is my son was trying to be a 3 sport athlete with really 2 being priorities. This gave him the ability to focus on the other priority sport and really excel there at a national level. It was a decision made form him but one I can't complain too much about in hindsight and it saved us several thousand dollars a year and gave us many more weekends home.
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1262 replies4 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Pre-directing the makeup of varsity, jv, jv2, etc... sounds like a nightmare. Reminds me of how most successful Little League World Series (Baseball and Softball) All Star teams are actually put together. There is a "designated" group of kids who play travel together. The parents pretty much run the local Little League for that age group, with the dads each coaching a regular season league team, but those kids still play together on weekend travel tournaments. Since the "All Stars" are chosen from each team, its important to stack the parent coaches correctly. The average kid who is not in the "designated group" has no shot of making the All Star team, unless he/she is the new kid who is touching 70/60 from the mound or circle or is routinely hitting it over.

    On the other hand, I have sat in the stands in high school and heard parents complaining how their kid (who just plays rec ball) did not have a fair chance. There is no question that politics are a part of many team sports, but the level of quality and skill between travel/club competition and rec can be huge. Sometimes it is downright dangerous to put a rec kid on the same field as club/travel players when reaction time is key.
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  • rickle1rickle1 1813 replies14 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^ Stacking little league teams happens all the time. When S20 was 10, all the rock stars left our little league to play on an elite travel squad. Essentially it was the All Star team from previous yrs. At age 12, they all magically came back to little league so they would be the All STar team competing for the Little League World Series. They won districts, regions and state (FL) to make it to the Southeast qualifier for Williamsport. Lost in the finals to a great GA team. A few of those kids have gone on to play D1 at strong programs like FSU. Most of them were just good HS players. Looking back, a lot of it had to do with size. These kids were huge for 12 yr olds.
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  • allyphoeallyphoe 2357 replies57 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    My kid tried out gymnastics and dance as a preschooler, then swam through elementary school. I picked up the park and rec soccer flyer one day - for kids aged 6 and up, there were zero entry-level teams. If you hadn't started as a 5yo, you were already too old.
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  • abasketabasket 18992 replies850 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    This is a case of deciding which basket to put your eggs in .
    1. The basket that gives free unstructured outdoor/indoor play time that includes interaction with siblings, friends, PARENTS.
    2. The basket that for a $$$ fee your child can:
    a. get ahead in sports
    b. be passed off to another adult to occupy the child.

    I say these most specifically for the 6 and under crowd. Sadly many parents (not all!) are looking for hands-off parenting. :(
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22414 replies14 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    But how is playing early organized sports any different than any other activities? I took ballet and piano for $1 per week while other kids were doing more professional lessons. When it can time for the school play and a ballerina was needs, the other kids were just better. Top chairs in the orchestra usually went to kids who had private lessons, went to summer camps with lessons - oh, and had more talent than me!

    I went to a school with 4000 students, 2000 boys wanted to be quarterback but only one could be. It didn't hurt if your last name was Elway.
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  • abasketabasket 18992 replies850 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Overscheduling or overpaying for any extracurriculars vs. unstructured playtime, family time, friend time falls in much the same boat to me.

    We need to not worry so much about not being "tops" at age 10 or 15. At least not for the majority of kids. Of course there are kids that are crazy athletically or musically inclined - and if that is their passion and drive, so be it. But when the majority of a suburb is traveling on the weekends to soccer tournaments than we are just playing "keep up with the Joneses"
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  • Darcy123Darcy123 230 replies6 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    At our high school cross country/track and swimming are still non-cut sports. We also have a pretty robust Y and rec league teams through elementary school. Middle school was where you saw the large uptick in travel teams. We were pretty against specializing too early. Our son played soccer, hockey, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, swimming and tried Jiu Jitsu during elementary (not all every year, but tried various ones and moved on when it felt right).

    Soccer and swimming were pretty consistent from 7 through middle school. Although he only swam in the summer and never played travel soccer. He didn't decide to concentrate on swimming until high school. I still think it was the right call. He's pretty quickly obtained sectional cuts and is a strong varsity swimmer for his high school. So, so many of those talented youngsters were burned out before high school hit. That's the part of specializing early people don't seem to concentrate on. They see the kid training year round and gaining skill - but don't follow them a few years down the road when they drop the sport entirely as it's no long fun.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    That was one of the best things about my kids running cross country and track in high school. Everyone got to run, and varsity status was given to the fastest runners.

    Yes, these types of sports where individual performance is measured without being confounded by other players make it much more obvious who is better at them, making corruption/favoritism/politics in team selection much more obvious.
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