My kids and 10 and 13. Both play youth sports, though my daughter (the older of the two) is more serious about her chosen endeavor (water polo) than my son is about his (he actually doesn’t have a chosen endeavor. He participates according to season).
The wife and I often discuss the seriousness of youth sports scheduling, which—in my humble and relatively unimportant opinion—has gone batshit crazy. This is the topic we discuss at length in the newest episode of The Sports Parent podcast.
Here’s my basic take: Coaches need to chill. Yes, commitment is important. And participation is important. If you sign up to be on a team, and your games are every Friday, well, we need to be there every Friday. If practices are three nights per week, hey, you signed up for practices three nights a week. You said you’d do it—you do it.
But there’s an asterisk, and it belongs alongside major events. For example, my daughter recently had her eighth grade dance. It was a big deal—DJ, food, snazzy duds, decorated gymnasium, most everyone going. I REALLY wanted her to attend, because, well, life goes fast. And this would be significantly more memorable than merely another sport practice. Casey, fortunately, didn’t have any scheduling conflict. But other classmates did—and their coaches steadfastly refused to allow them to miss practice for the dance.
Not a game, mind you. Practice.
This infuriates me.
Sometimes a coach needs to see the bigger picture. Character development. The joy of youth. Time with friends. If I’m heading a team of 13-year olds, and there’s a practice conflicting with the dance, I say, “Listen, you’re in eighth grade one time. Go to the dance. Get your work in later. But go to the dance. Go.”