Friday, November 28, 2008

Balancing sports time, family time

This recent piece in the Washington Post about families spending Thanksgiving on the road at youth sports tournaments - "13,000 players, coaches and parents from across the country flock to Daytona Beach, Fla., and Las Vegas for what is billed as "The Largest Single Weekend Football Tournament in the World" - raises issues of perspective and balance. I've spoken to parents - mostly swim parents - who say they haven't taken a family trip unrelated to youth sports in years. They choose not to, in part because they are told by coaches - or have picked up a vibe from other parents - that missing even a few practices or meets is an unthinkable breach.

In reporting for my book, I learned of a Minnesota non-profit that's pushing against this mindset. The organization, Balance4Success, advocates a family-first approach - interesting, if heretical, ideas such as cordoning off Sundays as "sports free" youth sports days.

We set boundaries of all sorts for our children - no TV on weeknights, lights out at 11. How many of us would embrace the idea of no youth sports on national holidays?

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