Dream of this…
Your little son Tommy or your little daughter Katie is playing on an all-star team in an out of state tournament. The place is packed with fans, and the tension is building as you wonder if your team is going to win. This is your 60th game of the summer, and you have seen improvement in your son or daughter’s skills. You really want them to win because the reputation of not only your child, but the team will increase, therefore giving you an even deeper sense of pride..
Now open your eyes…..and remember that your son or daughter is playing T-Ball!!!
This is how absurd the world of youth sports has become….
It wasn’t always like this… Mom’s and Dad’s out there, think back when you were growing up 20-25 years ago. Was there ever this much emphasis placed on our youth sports? Was there ever this much pressure put on us to succeed? Was there ever year round training for a specific sport? Was there ever a greater emphasis on learning how to win than learning how to play and having fun? Since the obvious answers to those questions is a resounding NO, lets take a look at how this situation has changed…
If Tommy or Katie get really good at a certain sport, they can go to college for free!!!
The rise of travel teams… Back in the day, the only “travel” type team was baseball, and only if your son and daughter was at least 12 years old. You played your “rec” season, then at the end of the year, the coaches voted on the best 12-15 players to form your travel team. What a concept, you were actually rewarded for playing through the city league, and on your performance. Now, not only is there separate travel teams for each age group starting as young as 8 years old, but there are multiple teams from the same city in each age group!! Any parent with a bunch of money and a dream can form their own team if they want, god forbid their child wasn’t good enough to play on another travel team. At 8,9,10 years old, who is able to really determine that anyway?
The theory behind travel teams… The theory is very simple. That is to get your son and daughter playing against the best competition possible, so they can become the best they can be. I get that, and actually agree with it to a point. There is a huge arguement to be made as to what is the right age to start with these travel teams. At what age should you start playing travel? What is important in any sport is not just the rules of the game. It is learning HOW to play, the nuiances of the game, doing what the situation calls for..in other words, Sport Specific IQ…and that is what should be taught to younger kids before they move on and play at a highly competitive level..
Does all this travel experience really lead to increased results?… In Part 2 of this series, we will explore how the rise of travel teams, and increased exposure on the high school level has led to increased pressure put on the kids to perform for that all elusive free ride to college..