My husband grew up playing every sport you can imagine and even played football during his college years at the University of Florida (Go Gators!!!) I also did hip hop and ballet as a child, and although my husband insists that dance is NOT a sport (insert Michelle Tanner’s “How Rude!!!”) I was always considered the most athletic out of my siblings.
When our son was born, my husband and I could not wait to enroll him into sports! By 2-years-old our son was already involved in swim and T-ball, and it didn’t stop there. As he got older he was eligible to sign up for more sports, such as football, soccer, basketball, and track.
Our daughter who just turned 2 has already done swim lessons, and begins soccer this fall at her preschool. While early sports is definitely a big thing in our household, I definitely understand why some parents might question whether it’s the best decision for their family. Therefore, I have created a list of the pros and cons of organized sports for little ones below, to help make the decision-making process easier.
1. Good Excercise
One of the biggest benefits of sports is the excercise children get from it. This is especially important in today’s schools that focus more on academics and less on outdoor activities. Even if your little basketball player doesn’t turn into the next LeBron James, an early introduction to sports can lead to a lifetime of great excercise habits.
2. Promotes Teamwork
Sports are great at helping young ones work together to win the game. It also teaches accountability and helps children realize what happens when they don’t correctly pass the ball or score in the wrong goal.
3. Teaches Discipline
Sports teach children how to follow directions from their coach and wait patiently for their turn to get in the game. While they may not always be happy about following the rules, it ultimately teaches them self-discipline which can take them very far in other areas later on in life.
4. Safety Skills
Some sports like swim teams are great for safety reasons. While your child doesn’t have to be the next Michael Phelps, being a strong swimmer can definitely save his life and even the lives of others.
5. Family Involvement
It’s easy to become so consumed with work, errands, and household chores that you miss out on quality family time, and that’s where little league games come in. No parent wants to miss their little one’s soccer or T-ball game, thus it forces the family to be in the same place at once rooting for their child.
My husband even coached our son’s basketball team a few seasons, and what’s even better is grandma and grandpa or that aunt you rarely see are likely to show up and offer their support too!
As enjoyable as it is watching your kids play sports, there are some days you just want to simply go somewhere else as a family or hell – sit at home in your pajamas watching Lifetime movies all day.
Some leagues may cost as much as $250
for the season, which doesn’t even include anything more than a uniform. That means cleats, helmets, mouth guards, bats, etc must be purchased separately. This can be difficult for families trying to make ends meet but some sports organizations offer scholarships or “early bird” specials that help out significantly with cost.
3. Disrupts the Family Routine
Some games might be scheduled during a time that does not work for your family, and you’re often not notified of the schedule until after you’ve signed up. For example, our son’s basketball games were every Sunday at 1 p.m. which made going to church pretty difficult. Then another season, his T-ball practices were at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, which was no bueno for a mom who loved to “sleep in” like myself. Some leagues also have weekday practices which may not be practical for families with a hectic work schedule.
Some children are just too young to really enjoy playing an organized sport. I remember my son having a tantrum at many of the T-ball games and it put a damper on the experience. No parent wants to wake up early on a Saturday morning, drive 30 minutes to the baseball field, and have their child play for all of 15 minutes before throwing him or herself to the ground, whining for a turn, or complaining it’s too hot.
5. Overly-Competitive Parents
I’ve been to enough games to know that there will always be that one parent who is more into the game than their kid. You can see them pacing back and fourth on the side-line shouting angrily at their kid to play harder, or going off on the coach, referee, and other parents for something unfair about the game.
While it’s alright to be passionate about sports and your child’s athletic performance, it is waaaay too early on in your child’s life to behave like P. Diddy at his son’s football game. Besides, putting too much pressure on your child to perform well will likely have the opposite effect where they end up hating sports and quit early.
In my opinion, there is no right or wrong time to sign your child up for sports. It is based on the individual child and family’s preferences. I hope this pros and cons list was helpful and please share any successful or horrifying stories you might have about your experience with your child and organized sports. Until next time Mamas!