Editor’s note: Following is a letter we received responding to our Nov. 17 editorial, “Kids Games”:
I spent three seasons as an administrator of a local soccer club and my own kids played for many years. In 2006, the Iowa Soccer Association lowered the age that soccer organizations can form select teams to U11 — essentially telling 10-year-olds that their coaches were going to decide whether they were good enough to be on a team with the best players in their club. It is a blow to kids every year when teams are selected and they don’t make a team with friends they may have been playing with for a couple years or schoolmates who suddenly are divided by a perceived disparity of talent. The message is to make your commitment to the sport early or risk not being good enough to make a team — at the age of 10.
Parents feel pressure early on to help their kids keep up with their peers and spend an inordinate amount of time, energy, and resources — if they have them — making that happen. Decisions for 10-year-olds are being made by parents. I’ve watched parents lobby to get their kids on a select team and do other things that make them more like an agent than a parent. In many cases, it isn’t about the kids at all, but how parents feel about themselves projected through their kids.
Youth sports couldn’t exist without the involvement of parents, coaches, and organizations run by adults. As soon as the adults involved decide that winning games, developing a dynasty, or achieving a personal agenda is more important, the many potential benefits of participating in organized sports are lost.