Exhausted in competitive sports

Hi all,

Some of you might remember me from this thread.

Unfortunately I came to realize it is equally worse in competitive sports. I honestly do not enjoy the college conversation from parents I met in middle school. I found myself equally exhausted from dealing with sports parents. Among kids, they show off GPA during sport practice. The amount of training those children do besides team training. The resource those parents invest is beyond imagination (a personal trainer, build a tennis court or medium size soccer field in their backyard) But…but… these are just middle school children. And then once you ask those parents why spending so much time and money for one sport, do they plan for an athletic future for their children? The answer is straight no, it is good for college.

I really don’t understand what is going on.

“Get ahead” - this is like terminology I am hearing …I am exhausted. (sorry for the ranting)


Then don’t engage with the discussions. Walk away, talk about algebra, talk about a vacation you are planning. Some people are really into sports and what their kids play or how good they are, but you don’t have to buy into it.


@twoinanddone there are “passionate” parents want to make sure to build a winning team, so every family has to participate all the “training” and “team building” activities.

I honestly don’t think it is necessary but I have to admit I am scared to say no (fear that my child will be bullied or left out for that)

Things are, I don’t feel some all the children in the team really enjoy that “much” commitment and yelling and expectation…

This seems a bit out of control for such a young age

Well yes, if the entire team wants to go to extra training and team building, you will either have to participate or find another team. Around here, for middle school, there are a lot of rec teams and then there are more elite teams. The time and monetary commitment for the elite teams is high, but many kids and families pick the other route of rec teams, or multiple teams for multiple sports.

We knew kids who were on travel teams for lax, hockey, soccer and their parents were paying $10k per year with flights and hotels and ‘chaperone fees’ but my kids were on the rec teams because that’s what I could afford. In fact, my daughter who played hockey and I had a discussion if she wanted to play on a ‘better’ team (not a $10k team, more like a $2k team). I told her she could do that, but it would be her only activity - no more girl scouts or basketball/volleyball at school, no choir or other music. Nope, she wasn’t willing to give all that up just to play hockey. Did the other kids move ahead? Yes, and my daughter was never that good at hockey. She plays on her college club team and has fun but that’s it. Didn’t help her get into college, didn’t give her any money (we paid for club hockey in college, although it was cheap).

It really sounds like dilemma

If I move my child away from competitive sport, then it is no longer as “fun”
If I continue this sport, the whole family is expected to sacrifice time and money for “getting ahead and winning”

The question is, do people really get into better schools because of the sports? And why does it have to be from such a young age? Does it have to be competitive sports? Does it have to take that much games, travel, time…I fear that deprives their chance of exploring other things.

Some do, but only if they are a recruited athlete. If not recruited, sports are just another EC.

I would start by exposing your kids to many activities and see what they have a natural talent for and/or what activities they enjoy. A kid who doesn’t like a certain sport is unlikely to be committed enough to progress to a level required to be a recruited athlete.

Family philosophy and resources (time, money, ability to drive multiple kids around to activities, etc) often dictate what activities kids can participate in. I wouldn’t worry about what other families are doing, do what is right for your kid and your family.


I agree that there is craziness in sports and there has been for a long time.

I was relieved when my kids got involved in other things.

If your kids are very involved in sports that are time-consuming, there will be a void if they leave so make sure there are other things to do. But some down time is healthy too and intense involvement in sports doesn’t leave much of that.

There is a social element to sports of course so yes feeling “left out” can be an issue. My kids experienced that but found other friends in other activities or from classes in general.

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I don’t recall anyone on my daughter’s travel teams ever talking about GPA. She had one coach that required them to report grades, but I think that lasted for less than a month. I do agree about the competitive college recruitment talk. My daughter started playing competitively at age 8 and it started way back then amongst the parents. Lots of making deals with coaches for playing time and undermining other players for more playing time. We spent a VERY short time on one team until we found out the coach was giving playing time to kids that paid him to be their hitting coach :roll_eyes:

Every team we’ve been on has been forthcoming with the required “extras” as well as the costs. We’ve said no to teams where it was too intense or too expensive (how many matching team bags does one need?), or if my daughter didn’t want to spend every weekend that they weren’t playing, doing team building. You can simply say “no” if it doesn’t appeal to you.

My D was a 4-year varsity athlete. Like others have said, it’s just another EC but I do think it shows that your child can handle academics AND a sport (or insert any other activity that is done regularly). While I doubt it gives them a bump, it does show AO’s that they can successfully juggle multiple demanding endeavors. It also helps add to the allure of being considered a “well rounded” applicant.


D20 was a competitive swimmer, swimming on the varsity team in MS. She was pretty good…until she stopped growing, which was completely out of her control. One family, with 2 D’s, hired a coach to work with them in their back yard pool all summer for years. A single mom went into debt up to her eyeballs paying for her D’s club team and travel expenses because she was counting on an athletic scholarship. They were all above average swimmers for our area. One is at one of the better state schools with good merit aid and is on the team but spent 2 years on the bench, one is at a small, private school with an 80% acceptance rate (full pay) and was a walk on, and the one with the single mom attends a CC part time because the scholarship never materialized. D20 attends a very good (“elite”, I hate that word) academic LAC and might be able to find the pool on campus if she tried hard enough.

TLDR: athletics (or clubs) might help with admissions because they show what your kid does outside of the classroom. So few students actually continue in college. For a dose of reality, I love this chart! Odds of a High School Athlete making a College Team | Scholarship Stats.com

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Only do high level athletics if your child has the desire and drive to be the best they can possibly be.

It is WAY to early for college to enter the equation. Middle schoolers have no idea about college, nor should they.

Yes, being a recruited athlete makes a tremendous difference with college admissions. But the only kids I’ve seen who are playing in college have always had the inner drive to be the best, it does not come from the parents.

You sound like you are in a toxic setting. Don’t worry about what other families are doing, do what’s best for your child/family. Think critically about what you are doing, don’t do something because “everyone” else is!

ETA you asked if it was overkill in middle school to all that training. The answer is, it depends. In some sports early training is not necessary. But others do require skills that are best learned early, so that a kid just starting to play, say, hockey or soccer, at age 13 will be very unlikely to catch up to their peers who have been playing for years already.


We had/have our kids in club swimming for many many years. I get it. I was one of those parents who just dropped off my kids at the pool for practice. I cringed though at some parents who would stay for every practice (3-5 days a week and 2-3 hour practice sessions). Some days I’d come a little early to pick up the kids and there was this particular parent who would walk the length of the pool as the kid swam. The coach finally kicked the parent off the deck.

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Competitive sports are exhausting! My oldest is S24, so I am new to the game, and we didn’t participate in club sports. What I have learned in the past two years is that club sports may help you get onto the high school team, but does not guarantee you will play in college. Find out what your child loves and follow their lead.

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This is coming from a mom of a kid currently applying, who has always been a really solid multi-sport athlete but never had a passion for any particular one. His passion is stem. And we live in a sports-crazy/college-crazy community. Lots of parents spend lots of money to get an edge on college, pretty much from when kids are old enough to kick a soccer ball. Rec sports are great for kids. But it is very easy to lose perspective when it seems most people share an irrational dream of college recruitment. That leads to a mindset that the other kids are the competition, and no expense should be spared in getting an advantage.

By middle school, kids had a chosen sport and played it year round. Rec level, dad-coached sports was all but abandoned. My kid still wanted to play rec sports. But his friends had committed to a club sport and dropped casual sports. Weekends were about out of town tournaments and I can’t imagine how much families spent on the lifestyle. The parents were intense, and there was no doubt it was about college and keeping up with the Joneses. We didn’t do it, but that was only because my kid was very clear that he didn’t want that life. I had drunk the kool-aid enough to worry about the impact on his college options if he opted out, but he didn’t have the passion for a sport that justified the sacrifices.

Now he has friends who, because of injuries or talent level, aren’t recruitable. I am not aware of many that are. One of his friends who has been devoted to basketball all his life didn’t have the grades (despite being very smart - his hard work and focus was just elsewhere) to get into a UC when he graduated last year, and wasn’t recruited. He is going to a community college (which is fine, but not what the goal was).

I can’t say for certain since he is applying now, but I don’t think that any of his sporty friends are in a better position than my son is for admissions.

Tldr: keep focused on what makes sense for your kid. Find what makes your kid tick, and go with that. Your family’s mental health will thank you. The down side is that you end up losing touch with families that you hung out with when the kids were little. But sometimes that isn’t so bad.


Our solution to not get sucked into the madness was to find a swim club that was a little more lenient. We were in one of those gold medal ranked swim clubs and the parents were a little nuts and the coaches could be downright awful (in terms of the yelling, passive aggressiveness, etc).


You may want to read Girls with Bright Futures, by Tracy Dobmeier.

Some things require planning: for instance, if your child wants to take Calculus as a 12th grader, she needs to take Algebra in middle school. If she wants to take AP French, she needs to take French 1a and 1b (or plain “1”) in Middle School. If she wants some leeway in her HS science choices, she should try and take Biology in Middle School. (Those are the only 3 subjects where it matters).
Same thing wrt planning if by age 10 your child is insanely gifted: then you want to make sure to nurture that talent. I didn’t believe it till someone sent me a video of Killian M’Bappé at age 10, and he was already better than HS students. One in million. He didn’t need pushing though, just the opposite+nurturing.
Sports can also be a benefit if you’re aiming for a NESCAC college (ie., either if you’ll benefit from their generous FA policies or are full pay with no problem, because D3 is strictly need-based aid). Being a D3 recruited athlete at a meet-need college can be a boost.
But sports are just one EC. Playing in middle school then high school, or just rec leagues, is 100% okay. They don’t help in “gaming” the college admission system, because most kids simply won’t be recruitable. And there are way more scholarships for high achieving students (with test scores, APs, etc) than for D1athletes.
Say “no” and just join the Rec leagues and the MS teams, unless your child is already prodigy.

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Yes, I remember your thread. And I’m pretty sure I said something similar to to what I will say again: what does your kid want to do? Why do you have to move your child away from the sport if he likes it? YOU are not continuing the sport, but maybe your child will.

I say this sincerely, but I really think you should just stop with all this. You (and your kid, no matter how much you try to shield him) are going to be a wobbling, sobbing, stressed out, and quite possibly bald basket case by the time your child actually applies to college in four years or so.

Can’t you follow your kid’s lead? Let him decide what he wants to do. If he wants to join the rat race, provide the balance he needs. You’re already in a state and it’s going to be hard to provide the stability he needs if you’re already exhausted and he’s not even in high school.

There is no problem here except the one you are creating in your mind. I honestly think you need to let go of these college obsessions and just let your kid be a kid. Let him have a little control over his future. Step back now, and enjoy the short time he still has to be 12 or 13.


Some D3 schools have merit aid. What they don’t have is athletic scholarships.

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yes, poorly worded: D3 doesn’t give scholarships to recruits for their skill at their sport but either in relation to their parents’ income, or specific academic skills. :slight_smile:

I’m going to write a book covering all the crazy things I’ve seen and heard over the past 4 years!!

I have experienced all ranges of emotions. It’s tough. People are naturally competitive. Some take it to the extreme. I have found it’s best to lead by example. You’d be amazed at the response.

It’s tough some times, mind you, and I am no means perfect (I am not), but it really works and helps you too.