In the Albany Times-Union, staff writer Mark McGuire makes a bold proposal. From McGuire's June 26 column:
"Every season, for at least one game, every recreational sports league for kids, say, ages 8-16 should play one adult-free game.
"No parents watching. No coaches/managers; captains run the teams. You can have refs/umps, or not. An adult not affiliated with either team could be on hand to help organize, or not. Kids would figure it out. Believe it or not, they can go out and play without you.
"You may not like the idea, but your child might."
Whether the mere presence of adults diminishes youth sports is a topic for another day, and possibly a doctoral thesis. We do some things that kids wouldn't, perhaps couldn't. Mostly safety stuff. Few 11-year-olds would wear batting helmets if not hectored by an adult. We share our experience, too. We can be good teachers, even mentors. On balance, though, I'd say we've deluded ourselves into believing that children at play need us far more than they do.
I also like McGuire's minimalist vision. Not just as it pertains to adults, but to all the stuff that surrounds sports for kids. This morning, I peered into my sons' bedrooms. Piled on shelves is a 12-year supply of ribbons, medals, plastic participation trophies. In many ways, less would have been more.