I am a huge advocate for putting your kids in sports. As an athlete myself many of the lessons I learned in life I learned on a field. That is why I chose to put my kids in sports early on. Many parents will disagree, and that’s okay. I completely understand the downside of competitive sports, but the upside is worth the risk.
My daughter has played soccer since she was 5. I was her coach and it was something we bonded over. I am a former soccer player and many of my friends are as well. It was only natural that I put her in a sport that we can both enjoy and coaching her was a lifelong dream, but the last few years she has played competitively for a local club at a high level. It has been great but we experienced the downside recently and I had to watch my daughter learn a very hard life lesson.
Full disclosure: I did not expect her, nor did I pressure her into loving the sport. She has taken it to her own level and I have only been there to support her. I know first-hand how much pressure parents put on their kids and have seen parents trying to live out their glory days through their children. I am and never will be that parent. So far, I have been mostly successful. Biting my tongue when I wanted to be critical, yelling when she wasn’t giving 100% and pointing out her errors, but I have let her lead conversations. Asking her open-ended questions so she can figure it out for herself. If asked I will help, but only if she asks. That being said, there are things I will not tolerate, self-pity, being unsportsmanlike, blaming others or make excuses. This is where I will draw the line and step in to lead the conversation.
The reason for this post: I am writing this not to applaud my parenting or to criticize other parents, it is simply to explain that sports are great but there is a huge downside. A downside we did not expect to experience so early on in her athletic journey. The cut throat business of club sports.
I will not disclose the coach or club we belong to, because we truly like them and are grateful for our time with the them, but I will talk about the hard lessons we learned recently.
Lesson 1: It’s a business and winning is put before player development
This was not 100% the case for us. Our coach is one of the best and he did help my daughter develop this season, not as much as was originally promised, but enough to see improvement. So, I am not fully complaining, but there was and is the desire to win over developing the players. What do I mean by this, if something better comes along there is no loyalty to a player. She/he will get dropped the second a better player comes along because it is a business and winning means money. Many coaches will do anything to have a winning season and the best no matter what age bracket. Everyone likes to win, I get it. However, these are still kids and this is not college or the national level. These are 10-year-old girls, but like I said earlier, it is part of the sport and part of competitive clubs. We knew that from the beginning, but it doesn’t make the situation any easier to digest.
Lesson 2: Tryouts conflict with the current season
Yep, tryouts are held well before the season is even over. Tryouts for her club were in early December. That is almost 2 and a half months before the season is officially over. The athletes find out their new teams before they finish their club tournament and the pinnacle State Cup. You might see where this can be a terrible situation for those cut and the team losing a friend.
Lesson 3: Cuts
As some of you read on my Instagram post my daughter was cut from her team for next season. This was extremely unexpected and we had no indication she would be cut. The worst part, she absolutely loves her teammates and they have had a very successful season. She leads the league in the least goals scored on her and they never lost a league game. The team has an incredible bond and won league. They will go on to State Cup in February hopefully to win the whole thing, but how can anyone expect her to be motivated knowing that her same coach is the one who cut her. But, we talked about her options.
Option 1: Quit and leave the coach and team without a goalie for the remainder of the season. Like I would let that happen, but I raised her right and she looked at me crazy when I suggested it.
Option 2: End the season a superstar with the best attitude, enjoy the last few games with our team, and prove to him that he made a huge mistake.
Option 3: Finish the season and find a new club.
She chose option 2 and 3. I fully support her and I am glad she made the decision on her own(ish).
So, as you can see putting your kids in competitive sports has huge benefits, but it also comes with hard life lessons. Lessons you really don’t want them to learn before they are in their teens. In the long run, I know it is good for her. We are taking this one day at a time. She has cried for 3 days straight, but our amazing soccer friends and family have rallied behind her supporting her and loving her. I have let her vent as much as she needed.
I know what she is feeling. I was cut from many teams as a kid and it never gets better, but you can control how you react to it. Learn from it and let it motivate you or let it eat you up and quit. I did not raise a quitter and you bet she has big plans for an epic comeback! Because my girl is strong, brave, a fighter, and she will not let anyone tell her she is not worthy without her consent.
Now for the Momma Bear Rant: Mind you her coach will absolutely give her an explanation as to why she was cut. It is not my job to do that and she deserves an explanation. The next practice I will make sure of that. You cannot expect an athlete or anyone to grow if they don’t know what or where they went wrong. But that will be my Momma Bear moment, and I will not back down from that. It’s the least he can do for her.
I want to leave you with this, while right now we are experiencing the downside of competitive sports we will continue to keep our kids active and you can too. It does not have to be in a competitive sport, there are a variety of ways to keep your kids active and to help them learn valuable life lessons.