This summer my wife and I decided to dabble in the world of youth sports thinking that our 4-year-old son, Reid, would have the time of his life! Boy oh boy, were we wrong. I’m gonna tell you right here and right now I think that 4 years old is far too young to enroll your child in a group sporting activity. Trust me on this. If you’d like a quick and easy way to ruin every Saturday morning for the entire summer, just reach out to your local friendly neighborhood rec center and enroll your child in youth soccer.
For the past five weekends we have cringed when pulling up to the soccer fields. Knowing that the next hour would involve an incredible amount of tears coming from every child being forced to participate in such brutal, physical activity. All these kids hugging the sidelines in their over-sized T-shirts and ill-fitting cleats, clinging to their parents as if it were a life-and-death situation. No amount of bribing will get these children on to the field – the promise of an ice cream sundae if they did well, or maybe a trip to the zoo or even a new puppy…nope. Instead they just fall to the ground limp, heavy and miserable like a fish out of water.
I had a hard time holding back the laughter when I saw three or four parents run out to the field and kick the soccer ball back and-forth between them in an effort to show their children how fun soccer can be. One parent snagged the ball and broke away from the pack making a run for the tiny peewee goal. I could tell that in some way she was trying to re-live some sort of missed high school opportunity. Setting up the shot she threw her leg back and with fire in her eyes came forward with that leg only to miss the ball, kick up into the air and fall flat on her back. Thump! Not quite the encouraging moves she was looking for. It was okay though, her son didn’t see her fall because he was preoccupied with chasing a butterfly in the opposite direction.
Finally, be prepared halfway through your season to have an overly enthusiastic photographer try to rally the troops for a team photo! An overly priced keepsake that will showcase all seven members of the team, three of which are turned around, two crying, one knuckles-deep picking his nose and one child missing (my son) because his shin guards were too tight, and yes, he was crying AGAIN.
Now don’t get me wrong here, youth sports are an important part of growing up and it’s important for our kids to build strong friendships and learn teamwork. I’m merely pointing out that at this young age the kids are NOT into it. Please consider this a gentle warning – avoid the frustrating drive home and maybe give your kids an extra year or five to become a little more independent. I’ve witnessed the confused little looks on these kiddos faces when you try to explain that you can’t use your hands and “NOOOOO run THAT WAY….NO THAT WAY”!! I’ve lived the experience for you, shelled out the $200 in fees and finally, I was that parent who, in no way, would acknowledge that yep, that’s my son out there with his hands down the front of his shorts.
From Colorado Parent August 2015