When I’ve asked parents “Why so much sports”, the heart of the entire matter lies in their answer; Parents see sports as a path to college, and cling to the hope that their child might get a sports scholarship. Say the word Lacrosse and Zack Brenneman’s name is whispered like a Vesper. This somehow justifies starting kids in competitive sports at the age of 4 and maintaining that effort through high school.
Okaaay.. If the child gets a sports scholarship one would have to assume that the kid would need to focus a good amount of energy at college on… that’s right, sports. And if they were able to maintain the 3.0 GPA needed to stay in school and to stay injury free for four years, they would then graduate to what, other than a life of knee and shoulder surgeries?
So let’s get this straight; kids pick schools based on their sports programs and schools pick kids based on their sports skills. Isn’t there something missing something in this education equation; like Education?
End Game The typical outcome of a childhood spent playing sports is an adult who is an avid sports spectator. And when that adult has, and let’s not kid ourselves by and large I’m talking about guys, his own children the cycle renews. Dad, eager to relive his own sports obsessed youth, coaches his kid’s team. A fun way to bond to be sure, but there is a new perversity to it. Kids’ sports have become a mini version of professional/college leagues. To what degree is skewed by location. Here in the Hamptons, sports are big, not huge. This isn’t exactly Odessa, Texas. There is plenty written about the (d)evolution of kids’ sports, of what was once a pretty casual activity. The book “Until It Hurts” by Mark Hyman eloquently sums up this entire subject. It’s not a pretty picture.
Instant RePay There are two main costs involved with all of this. Time and money. The price of stadium tickets is insane and giant flat screens, cable TV, and pay-per-view are not exactly free. Not to mention PS3 and Xbox and accoutrement. Let me say it again, I do not hate sports! I was in Germany during the 2010 World Cup, buzzing away on my vuvuzela at the bier garten. But when it was over, it was over. Everyone returned to their lives as the players left the field. There wasn’t some other game waiting for their eyes and wallets to return. Soccer is played year round in Europe, but it’s not competing with baseball, hockey, basketball and football (as well as tennis, golf, lacrosse, etc.). With regard to time; the length of a football game is 3 hours and a baseball game is 2.45 minutes. The length of a televised soccer match is only 90 minutes. Hmm…
The United States has fallen to last place in the rank of industrialized nations with regard to graduation rates and quality of education. Our entire economy is in serious trouble. Not many people are touting the success of the national public school system or the brilliance of kids graduating (the graduation rate has stagnated at around 68%), so ya gotta wonder what the hell is going on. I know… it’s the schools, the parents, the unions, drugs, the budget, blah blah… I say put sports mania on that list. The principal at the local elementary school was promoted through the Physical Education Department, i.e. he is a gym teacher. Huh?
My kids and their friends, and practically every boy I know all spend the bulk of their free time playing sports video games, playing or watching sports (and Call of Duty-but that’s another article).
In Europe I witnessed a culture not obsessed with youth sports. Kids didn’t play endless hours of video games. They don’t have a closet full of helmets. European kids do plenty of sports; swimming, tennis, gymnastics, and of course soccer, but it’s a casual activity for the kids not a lifestyle for the whole family. It’s about fun and fitness. Not a road to higher education. The connection between sports and college is uniquely American.
There is a lot of talk in this country about how sports encourage healthy competition; yet how important is your batting average or your three-pointer in the adult world? Whether we’re talking about engineering or advertising, what matters is knowledge, the quality and quantity of what you have learned and experienced. Maybe it’s the reason girls are gaining an edge over the boys?