I've never been an athlete.
My sister's laughing right now at the magnitude of that understatement. I'm like, the anti-athlete--and I'm okay with that. I don't pine away for the feel of the pavement beneath my Nike Cross Trainers. (Though the ad pitch in What Women Want even gets to me a little bit, I have to say...)
I grew up at the ball field. Every summer, so much of our days revolved around my brother's baseball games. The year they went to state was the year I bought my very first Bangles casette tape, along with the soundtrack from St. Elmo's Fire. I must've listened to Manic Monday 1,000 times. I also locked the car keys in the trunk and garnered the wrath of my dad.
I even wore the battle scars of summer baseball...I was hit by a pop fly sitting in the stands. The darn thing landed right in my bare-skinned lap.
I probably whined about having to go to all those games. I probably hated every second of it, even though I thought my brother was a rock star pitcher. (He could throw something like 96 mph in high school.)
But now I look back on it with such nostalgia. I grew to love baseball. My favorite sports movies are the ones about baseball.
I want my boys to love baseball. So far, it's the only sport Ethan's participated in. He's played three years, in three different leagues. This year, it's kid-pitch, two hour games, no run-rule...and I've got a bone to pick about the way we do sports nowadays.
Somewhere along the line, someone decided it was smart to do this "every kid plays, every kid wins, let's just go out there and have fun..." thing. And while I'm all for having fun and I'm definitely all for every kid being included, I'm NOT for slacking off, not teaching the kids the fundamentals of the game and basically sending our kids out there without a clue what they're doing.
And that, folks, is what our season has been like so far.
Here's the deal.
In order to really "have fun" playing a sport, I think the kids have to feel proud of what they're doing. The enjoyment comes from doing something--and doing it well. And when you haven't taught them to do anything, how is that ever going to happen? I understand it's not all about winning--but it is about putting up a good fight, playing hard, being excellent.
I think the approach we've taken to sports takes the excellence out of it completely. We fail to teach the kids to have pride in their work, to run hard, to do their best...and when they get on the field, it shows.
Who does this serve?
Kids like to feel a sense of accomplishment, but after every game so far, Ethan's practically bolted off the field and to the car. "That was the worst game ever."
I really believe we're doing our kids a terrible disservice by not pushing them. By not requiring more out of them. And I'm not talking about more time because a two hour game for a 7-year-old is just too long. I'm talking about pulling the best out of them. Not letting them settle. Teaching them the discipline of working hard.
Am I off my bean here? Am I the only one who is fed up with the wishy washy approach we take to kids' activities these days? We always required 100% from the kids in our shows, and you know what? They always gave us 110%.
Does anyone else have any experience with this? I know it's not like this everywhere--my sister lives in Georgia, and they're at the other end of the spectrum down there--sports are like oxygen. But a middle ground would be really nice.