Editor’s note: Following is a letter we received responding to our Nov. 17 editorial, “Kids Games”:
As a farm kid, my folks came to our sporting events only when their schedules allowed them to do so. The outgrowth of this was that we, as kids, understood that our “hobbies” were just that. They were a source of enjoyment; and they belonged to us.
As I raised my own kids, I had a less demanding schedule than my father and my mother had, but I still chose when I attended their events. I supported their engagement. I bought them the required equipment and materials, but I didn’t rearrange my life to attend their events. When I did go, I noticed that they were happy with their friends and putting their energy into their activity, and I knew I’d raised some pretty good kids.
I believe the epidemic of parents who relive their glory days of high school is spreading. It’s not pretty. Those parents sometimes push their kids into working so hard to become good at the sport, that it can no longer be considered a hobby, much less a way to enjoy life.
These are the parents who scream at officials and coaches, and sometimes children, at sporting events. In their backgrounds, I suspect you’ll find a coach who wasn’t always fair about making sure everyone got to play; or a coach who told them they were lacking some skills, but didn’t take the time and effort to work with the athlete on it.
I experienced that, too. However, because I saw softball as a form of leisure activity, I accepted JV status and had fun with that group of kids while I engaged in a sport I enjoyed.
I believe sports programs should be made available as a means of helping kids learn to socialize. They need to learn how to both win and lose gracefully. They need to have exercise and to test their physical limits. But most of all they need to find out for themselves what recreation looks and feels like. When it isn’t fun anymore, it’s no longer a game.