Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sports, Fun and Competition

Middle Sister is trying out for the basketball team.

This is a whole new experience for her. Not basketball--she's played it for the past two years, and is pretty good, especially after the season gets started and she finds her rhythm in the game. In fact, she learned to dribble before she was toilet trained, when Big Brother was playing "instructional" ball in first grade.

But she's in fifth grade now. And basketball is serious business in fifth grade. There are tryouts. There are kids showing up in shirts advertising their positions on last year's "all-star" team. There are kids playing for their town "rec" team as well as the CYO team. The coaches are all business, and from the looks of things, the parents are too. We are here to WIN.

I could say that a wider playing field is a good thing, and that learning to take your lumps is a good thing. All that is true. But I think there's time enough for that when they get to high school. These kids are ten years old. They are still honing their skills. I think that at this level, kids don't need to be cut from teams. I don't think kids need to be playing on two teams for the same sport in the same season (when do they eat--sleep--study--shower--play?) I don't think the kids need to get in that mindset that if they don't perfect their layup shot by the age of 11, their chances of playing college ball are over.

Big Brother stopped playing basketball at his own request after his fourth-grade season ended, because "it's not fun anymore. All they want to do is win games." We didn't push him. He had a good handle on the situation, and basketball is really not his thing. He had finished the season, so there was no more commitment to be honored.

I see a wide-open opportunity for Middle Sister's fragile ten-year-old ego to be trampled in this sports situation.

UPDATE: Middle Sister did not make the Junior Varsity (5th and 6th grade) team. Next week she has the "opportunity" to try out for the Sophomore (4th and 5th grade) team.
Only 12 kids out of 30+ trying out made the cut. All 8 6th-graders, and only 4 5th-graders.
She looked good today, too. Not great, but she's 10.

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