Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Assault on Childhood Continues

Sorry guys, I can't come down and skip rocks at the pond. I have pitching and hitting lessons this morning, speed training and agility class this afternoon, and then mom's taking me to go pick up a new Prodigy lithium bat. Between all of that and packing for the trip to the tournament in Oakdale, I'm just slammed. Yeah, I know it's a lot, but when you take up T-ball you either go all the way or you may as well forget it, you know?

(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)


JRJ said...

Unbelievable. I don't even like the little league world series games on ESPN. I think it's exploiting children. Let the kids be kids and stop trying to make a buck on it. Is this getting as bad as women's gymnastics?

Thanks for providing the link.

mooseinohio said...

Most sports fans my age know who Todd Maranovich is and maybe even Ty Tryon (i.e. youngest to qualify for PGA Tour) who turned out to be major bust - mainly because parents never provided them balance in life and only focused on certain gifts they had. As a result neither has achieve the potential that was within them because they trained to excel as opposed to developing their natural talents organically.

Imagine if these parents put some of that time into simply playing with their child what they may become? If they invested half of the money they spend on sports their child could go to most any college in the US with no debt - so no need to 'earn' a scholarship.

I am a father of a three year old and I pray to God that if I start heading down this path some folks close to me slap me up side the head and tell me to snap out of it and just go play with my kid.

Jason said...

You know, CC, after reading that article, particularly regarding the $200 bats, the travel, plane tickets, hotels, etc... you can quickly draw a line to see why the socio-economics tilt a certain way.

How many lower-income kids are taking $200 from their mom's pocketbook, money that might be better spent on the necessities, and buying a bat?

Mooseinohio is right on... It's rare to see kids just playing to play. Not everything has to be an organized tourney. I've refused to "officially" coach my 8 year old as I see how crazy some of the parents can be. A co-worker of mine coaches 10 year olds and he says it's even worse.

Parents have always been accused of trying to push their kids to achieve where they once failed. But what about stepping back and just letting the kids have some fun? I know I have a boatload more fun just playing catch with my son than nearly anything else.

Look, if you have a truly gifted child, great, go for it. For the rest of us, teach them the game and let them have fun at it.

Pete Toms said...

I see a lot of this as well being the dad of a couple young boys. I don't even think it's about the kids, it's about the competition between the parents. Our parents had it right, "go outside & play". Why are we so shallow?

tadthebad said...

I wonder if such competition minded parents worry that if athletic skills are not developed, they will be short-changing their kid's future. On the other hand, I think for the most part it does come down to 1) wanting one's kids to succeed where the parents "failed", and 2) competition among parents. Either way, how is this behavior good for any kid?

Anonymous said...


My brother has 3 kids in FL, all of whom play baseball. One made it to the LLWS a few years ago.

It's interesting, but part of the issue is the visibility the upscale leagues have vs the invisibility of the local leagues.

Yes, you can spend for the Mizumo's and the flying to tournaments. But there are leagues where the kids stay local, and they play hard and often. At a certain level around high school age, play intersects. The upscale kids get exposed to the local players and a lot of talent based weeding out takes place.

At this point it's the kids whose own ambitions and skills are paramount. Parents are still proud, sometimes loud, etc..but are less significant in the overall picture.

All that spending at an earlier age really is part of a greater issue: parents treating their kids as projects, rather than

Pete Toms said...

Anon. You're preachin to the choir when you say "kids as projects". It's a competitive thing. "What do your kids do?" is a common question amongst our generation of parents and one that I never heard amongst my parents and their peers. Why do kids have to "do", why can't they just be friggin kids. Kids left to their own devices ( if their overprotective parents will let them out of their yards ) will find other kids and "do" plenty.

Osmodious said...

It goes beyond just baseball, folks...we have this thing now where everything for our kids has to be 'done just right' or they won't be a 'success' (which seems to mean, Escalade, big house, 2.3 kids of their own, etc.). People are freaking out when their kids don't get into the 'right' Montessori School, for crying out loud! Kids HAVE TO be involved in tons of activities, both athletic and otherwise, or their parents are considered 'uninvolved' or something. It's ludicrous.

As to the athletics, though, we have ourselves to blame. We rise up some of these automatons as 'ideals' and the only way for anyone to achieve like that is to sacrifice all for that one goal. Let me 'splain...Tiger Woods is hailed as amazing and inspiring and such, as is Michael Schumacher in the world of motorsport. But I think that they SHOULD be the best at what they do because it is all they have done since the age of 3. Seriously, if you eat, breathe, sleep, sh!t, live ONE THING for 20 years, you damned well better be the best at it...otherwise you are a failure (to me, anyway). Really. Dedicate your entire life to something and you will be better than someone who didn't. Is that something to be admired? I don't know. What I DO know is that it is very hard to determine whether someone programmed like that from the age of 3-5 is truly doing what they want or 'living their own life'.

Anyway, by putting people like that up on a pedestal, we create these unattainable goals for kids...they can never reach that level unless they sacrifice everything else (which we generally don't allow, anyway, except for those who force their kids to excel where they failed).