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I read an article lately that discouraged preschool sports, citing injuries to little bodies that are still developing as a potential problem. The article also said that “studies have shown that kids who take sports as preschoolers are no more likely to play sports in high school than those who don’t.”

They might be onto something.

My 3-year old just finished basketball and will start tennis and swimming in a couple of weeks. My 5-year-old is finishing ice hockey next week and will go right into baseball and swimming. He asked to do track, but we said no. But they want to do these activities! It’s never my idea to spend $200 on helmets, skates, registration fees. I just figure what’s the harm in keeping them active, fending off obesity and learning to be on a team?

My husband played division one sports and got recruited for both baseball and football, so I always defer to him before we sign up for anything.

“When you were little did you play sports.”
“When you were really little, like Sam’s age?”
“Oh my God, then maybe I should sign him up for baseball now!”
“Oh no, I didn’t start baseball until junior high….I’m talking about
bowling school.”
“Um, bowling school is not a sport. It was a place for your mother to smoke cigarettes and drink beer, while someone else watched you.”

Ok, so the moral to that story is that kids don’t have to start a sport at age 3 to become the next Tiger Woods. I actually think that most
parents that I interact with don’t know that. I have found that I could easily become one of those parents.

When my oldest was 3, about to turn 4, I signed him up for a “youth track” program at a local college. Since he was born he has NEVER been tired. He stopped taking naps at a very young age and started catapulting himself out of his crib at 15 months, further hindering the sleeping process. I thought even if he ran around the track once, maybe he would get tired.

The first day he ran 2 miles without stopping.

My husband and I, (emphatically NOT RUNNERS) stood on the sidelines smoking cigarettes watching in shock. We had to stop him for fear of his life. I remember looking at his little beet-red face thinking, “So this is my destiny…to be the mother of an Olympic
track star.”

One of my girlfriends said, “You should really videotape him, he’s going to need it for his E True Hollywood Story.”
(P.S. – He still wasn’t tired.)

So over the course of Fall track and Spring track my son made friends and wanted to be on the track with other 3/4 year-olds. Unfortunately, said 3/4 year-olds were always ” tired” or “had stubbed toes.”. It was infuriating to watch my track star walking the track with these lazy kids. We became crazed.

“If you want to walk Michael, we can go home and walk up and down the street…We are not here to play games, now RUN!” I said angrily during one particularly annoying session when he walked the
whole time. “What’s going to happen to you in life? Every time some loser wants to do their worst you are going to be by their side helping them????”

I at least had the sense to tell on myself to my husband when I got home.

“He wants to hang out with all these fat derelicts that walk the whole time. (looking back, the derelicts were 4 year-olds enjoying a walk around the track)
I’m turning into a crazy track mother. You have to take him next week, maybe if you run with him, he’ll run.”

No dice.

My husband tried to run with him and he wanted to go slow to walk with his friends.

“Come on Michael, let’s go! I’m beating you and I’m not even trying! Try to keep up!”
“Dad, I’m tired…’s not even a race.” Michael said, exasperated.
“EVERYTHING is a race!” my husband said like a lunatic.
Two mothers walked by and gave him a dirty look.

So we gave it up. Maybe he can go back to it some day, as he potentially could be a track star; but for now my husband and I had to take a break to work on being rational, non-competitive human beings.
So our house rule for now is only 2 sports per season;)

10 responses »

  1. As the mother of the bowling school child please note that we did not drink beer but smoked at least a pack of cigarettes.

  2. rule @ our house: 1 sport per season. Which right now equals two sports person due to the fact that the older two are in sports. And, sometime in our future 1 sport per season will equal 4 because I am one fertile bitch and I have four kids. The mom’s on my daughters softball team and I jokingly say that we should take shots or drink a glass of wine before watching their games. We are only half kidding.

  3. I laughed out loud:) Pre-schoolers are so damn lazy.

    Thanks for a vivid, funny read!

  4. This response raised a lot of issues. Personally I think for little ones that there is, and should be, a big difference between play and activity and sports. It’s a delicate balance between encouraging and urging bloodthirsty competition with winning the only important things. It looks like you’re going to have fun with this for a few years yet! 😉

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