I'm Tired of Sports Raising My Kids - Jeff Riggins Photography

I’m tired of school and sports raising my kids! I’m sure the title instantly put many folks on the defensive, but remember, it’s just me. Just an ole dumb hillbilly that doesn’t know half of what he talks about. We’re smack dab in the middle of basketball season here in the midwest. I’ll be lucky to make it through this day with my life! With every read word, the likelihood of me getting jumped in public slightly increases! Just remember you’ll be trying to bite a tiger ;) Bad timing for my thoughts? Maybe! If you all know me, then you likely know I can’t help myself. I call it as I see it. I am not against sports or the school by any means. To all of you that I work with or for, share friendships with, and love… this is simply about the way life has become through my eyes. I don’t mean disrespect to anyone. Of those who read this, about half of you will undermean what I stand, while the other half of the world will think I’m the devil. There’s about 10% of you that are still hung up on the fact that I said “undermean”. The rest of you clearly undermeant exactly what I stood. Having said that disclaimer, here we go...

Am I selfish because I want to raise my kids? I want to be responsible for raising them! Emphasis on I. I don’t want the school to. I don’t want the coaches of sports teams to raise my kids. I do. I do! I do! Am I a narcissistic butt hole because I feel like I can do it better? It’s a precious time that you will only get to experience with your child ONE time. I want to be the one to raise them! Most days, I truly feel I was born fifty years too late, as the song goes.

Let’s say, I have until my children turn 18, or graduate high school, to influence them, teach them values, and the skills of life. I have until that time to do things with them such as family vacations, planting a garden, changing the oil, or just goofing around in the living room. I believe there should be more meals together, at the table! Once that day hits when they turn 18, graduate, and move out, it’s gone. The grown children move on to do their own things and start their own lives. Sure, there’s still time together, but not in the same capacity. We all have ONE life and then it’s gone. We have ONE opportunity to spend time with our kids when they are… kids. Where is the time for family in today’s world?

Here are a few things I get. I get that being a member of a team can teach our children many things. I get that sports can teach our children a good work ethic. I get that the social skills learned at school and through sports is a lifelong asset. The list goes on with benefits of sports. Hard work, dedication, commitment. I can’t argue that.

What I don’t get is how hard we push them to be great at a specific sport. We push them until it is their childhood life. It consumes their childhood. No time to build a fort in the backyard or with chairs and blankets any longer. We used to play football for fun in the side yard. If it was raining, even better. We actually had time to play or hang out after school and nothing else mattered. Not in today’s world. You have got to work on that free throw or bat swing! For what? What happens the day they graduate? What happens after the last game of their senior year? Did we teach them to change the oil in their car? Do they know if turning a screw counterclockwise will loosen or tighten it? What happens now? Their childhood is gone. If you’re still thinking about it, then you would have loosened the screw. The demands that we placed on them as kids to be perfect at a particular sport is now gone. We demanded that they spend four or five nights at this sport. Now what? Did we make family memories to last a lifetime? What is it that they are working towards exactly? A college scholarship? That would be amazing! There are a few that will earn that. It will definitely take that hard work, commitment, and discipline. If you earn a scholarship, then rock on! What are the percentages? I don’t know the answer to that.

I know a few families that are diehard sports families and that’s great for them. If it’s your thing as a family to be deeply involved in a particular sport then rock on! It would possibly be similar to hunting and fishing with me and my children. I get it. To those few families, you are making memories doing what you love together. I respect that. If that scenario is a few families, let’s say 5% of the families involved in the sport, what about the others? Do we deny our children the chance to play sports because it is just too much? Is that selfish? I’m torn on that issue. I believe that for a child to have to spend four or five nights a week at a sport is too much. Take that combined with the amount of homework they have and it’s very overwhelming to say the least. Drive by any school until late evening and into the night. It will be more crowded than it is during the school day. I just don’t feel life should be so heavily focused on a particular sport that consumes a child’s life. The same as I don’t believe there should be so much homework that it keeps a child busy for hours and hours outside of school. Is it wrong to tell your kid “no” they can’t play a sport? I don’t know the answer to that. Will they truly understand it’s because you want to be the one to spend time with them? Is that selfish? Is it the wrong way of thinking?

I have two children. Mckenzie is in cheerleading and Hunter is in archery. Hunter plays baseball in the summer. I say that because, they’re not trying to do every sport known to mankind. The cheerleaders cheer for every football game during their season. It is now basketball season and the cheering continues. They cheer for EVERY boys game. They cheer for EVERY girls game. This includes EVERY home game. They cheer for EVERY away game. As many of you know, the night’s start with a JV game, followed by a varsity game. The cheerleaders stay for both games plus travel time. These children are at the school from the time they wake until around 3:30 pm. If they’re lucky, they come home for about one hour at the most, then right back to the school until around 10 pm or later. I don’t want my child to eat supper, shower, and do homework between the hours of 10pm and midnight! This isn’t just Monday through Friday, it’s Saturday games too. This doesn’t even include all of their practices. Mckenzie loves cheerleading. I think it’s great too. I’m very proud to watch her cheer. I enjoy watching a game. I just don’t believe it should be so much. At the end of the day, what is it all for? I don’t mean any disrespect to the coaches or anyone else. They all do a great job. I’ve been a head coach for the last four years as well. Hard work, discipline, commitment. They’re all great assets. I’m preaching more about the way life has become in today’s society. Where’s the time for family?

That’s one child and one sport. Does anyone have more than one child in a sport? Exactly! Hunter practices for archery twice a week with a meet averaging once a week. The school week ends on Friday at 3. This Friday night we have a game lasting until oh say 9:30pm or so. On Saturday, Kenzie has two games to cheer for. One is around noon and the other is around 6pm. Both are away games in different towns. Hunter has an all day meet in Anderson. Anyone know the feeling of rushing something for supper or grabbing fast food all the time because you have to be here and there at the same time? Who’s kitchen table is even cleaned off enough for a meal? It’s life nowadays. I’m not against sports. I’m against the massive amount of time we dedicate to it. Am I a selfish pig because I’d like to have the weekend to spend with them? Our children are only children one time!

I’m not quite sure at what point things got all out of whack, but they certainly did. This is simply my opinion as an ole dumb hillbilly. Maybe this is all an incorrect perception on my end. Maybe it’s just the combination of archery and cheerleading. Maybe I have no clue what I’m talking about. I may just be venting. Who knows. It’s just how I see it, which we have all established… Is outside the box and a little out there sometimes!

The kids have an enormous amount of homework on top of everything else. What is the purpose of a school? Is the focus on education or sports nowadays? If it’s sports, then what do we give them after that last game of their senior year? If I could change the world, I’d love to see our schools as a means to educate our children for the book smarts during the school day, then allow families the rest of the time to educate our children on life. I’d have the same sports, but it just wouldn’t be quite so much. It is becoming as much or more important than everything else. Give the parents the time they deserve to raise their children!

Let the kids enjoy their childhood. Learn from their mothers and fathers. Learn how to change the oil, work on a bicycle, sell lemonade, build forts, have sleepovers, harass your sisters or brothers, and get muddy!

When school is out for the summer, the madness doesn’t stop. Anyone feel like they live at the baseball diamond? I’d like that time to spend traveling or doing other things with my children. I know folks that drive crazy long distances to play year round ball. I know families that spend over 10k on gymnastics each year. Please understand, if that’s what you love to do as a family, then I think that’s awesome. If it’s because you feel it’s the only way your child will stay off the bench for the in-season, then hmm.. At the end of the day, what is it all for?

Times have changed. To add to it all, I can’t afford to watch every game my child is involved in anymore. Last nights game cost $20 for two adults and two children to enter the gym. To watch our own children. One game of many, many games throughout the seasons. No concessions! Is this an educational facility or a sports business? The financial stress of simply playing a game is out of whack too, in my opinion. In a day when both parents need to work, how much time and money do we devote to this? What if it weren’t this way? Would it be different? When did it all begin? To answer those who may be thinking, “Well, if you don’t like it then don’t put your kids in sports.” I get that. I understand.

I will never change the world. My thoughts are simply… my thoughts. I’m not going to get schools to lessen the amount of homework and fall behind the rest of the world. I won’t get our sports programs to lessen the amount of time devoted to sports and fall behind the rest of the world. Competition will continue to grow. Life will continue to become busier. It saddens me, but it is what it is. I can’t imagine what this world will be like in another ten or twenty years. I’d change it all if I could. I love everyone and those who know me will know I mean no disrespect. I hear people say that one day you will MISS having to run the kids here and there for sporting events. I do not doubt that as I will surely miss many things. Rather than MISS taking them here and there for games, I’d rather MISS the family time that we spent together doing other things. Not all the time. I’d like to watch them at their games, but just not as crazy often as society has made it. I feel as the days come and go and the years pass by, this world is slipping further and further from the way I feel it ought to be. That doesn’t mean it’s right, it’s just how I feel. Like I mentioned, most days I feel alone in my thinking. I should have been born about fifty years ago.

Just some thoughts from an ole dumb hillbilly!

How do you feel about it?

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