Little kids with big bags.

Little kids with big bags..jpg

If you played a sport in olden times, chances are your equipment wasn’t on par with A-Rod’s or Lebron’s. You probably didn’t really look like an athlete at all, let alone a sponsored one.

Have you been in a ball field parking lot lately?

I am not kidding when I say there are teeny tiny boys and girls showing up for t-ball looking like they just waltzed off the pages of a Dick’s Sporting Goods catalog. The same holds true for tots making an appearance at their first soccer game, tennis lesson, dance class, hoops practice…

Maybe I’ve become Andy Rooney, but seriously, can we find out if our kids enjoy an athletic pursuit before we raid the Under Armour Outlet? Should we really give our mini-me’s more than one bat before they can hit a ball?

Seems like this emphasis on equipment, gear and general swag is yet another side effect of a youth-sports culture gone awry. Perhaps if our kid looks the part he/she will be well on his/her way to the big show, or at least a D1?

Hey, fine. What evs. As a former D1 athlete myself (well, I made the team and soon retired) I can assure you that any money saved when you get a full-ride has long since been spent on private lessons, travel, coaches, equipment, physical therapy co-pays and beyond. You pay, it’s just a matter of when, where, who and how much. If you don’t believe me, ask my dad.

The thing is: I love sports at every level. I am a rabid sports fan who listens to sports talk radio, like on purpose...when I’m in the car by myself.

The Czabe makes my morning commute a joy. Dan Patrick’s like a god to me. More Jay Mohr Sports is never enough. And do I watch sports? Oh, do I ever watch sports. 

Also, at age 43, I play competitive tennis nearly every weekend. But there were also 22 years when I was on a self-imposed hiatus from the sport because I was so burned out. Tennis anyone? Nope, none for me, thanks. 

A pretty low-level prodigy (meaning I was a solid regional player who was good enough for some D1 programs, but never going to make a living doing much with tennis other than coaching it) from the ages of 9 to 18, there was a time when the thought of playing tennis for fun was laughable.

I know, this doesn't happen to every kid. I've made peace with my part in the whole affair, but now that I’m older and occasionally wiser, I have some feelings about starting kids in competitive sports too young. Am I wrong in that many who are all-in at 9 are completely out by 14? Too many kids seem to be walking away from sports for which they seemed to have great affection and enthusiasm...way too soon.

Isn’t the goal exercise, health, camaraderie, life lessons, teamwork, a love of the game and developing an appreciation for the stars who do it better than most of our kids ever will themselves?

…this from a gal who is so competitive I can barely function at times…

Yes, I love to win, but I hope to raise kids who love to play as much as they love the “W” and way more than they obsess about awesome bat bags and outfits. As a result, I am constantly asking myself: Are we living vicariously through our kids and their wins to such a great extent that we are all losing at a way more important game?

And lastly, to those who will say: But someone’s kid has to make it. It could be my kid, but not if I don’t give them every advantage right out of the gate. If they don’t specialize and focus and play one sport all year round, they’ll never have a chance. 

You do your thing, we’ll do ours.

Yes, I have become Andy Rooney. There are worse people into whom I could morph I suppose. I’ve seen a couple at youth sporting events.