Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do kids need sports training at 6? Ask Y.E. Yang

Granted, Tiger Woods (with a two-stroke lead with 18 holes to play) beats Y.E. Yang in a major championship 98 times out of 100. Maybe 99.

Still, I couldn't help noticing the contrasting life stories of these two, after Yang's improbable victory in the PGA Championship Sunday.

Woods who got a golf club, then his baby teeth. Brought along in the sport by a dad consumed with raising a champion. At 2, appeared on the Mike Douglas Show. At 3, had a nine-hole score of 48. At age five, featured in Golf Digest and on ABC's That's Incredible. Winner of the Junior World Championships six times. A prodigy in every sense of the word.

Yang who played many sports as a kid - baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball - but never golf. Who had no interest in the sport whatsoever, in part because his father regarded golf as elitist. Who did not touch a club until age 19, and then only because he'd taken a lousy job picking up balls at a country club. Who until he had turned pro and advanced to playing tournaments was almost entirely self-taught.

So, respectfully, I ask, do we really need to sign up our six-year-olds for travel soccer?

1 comment:

Doug said...

In short...NO...they don't need to be on a traveling soccer team. Kids need guidance and to be asked "would you like to play soccer?" and perhaps they say yes...perhaps.."nah...I just want to play." Fine by me. Just our opinion here (wife and I). I played youth soccer because I loved it and so did my friends starting at age 9. Approaching 12, the local traveling team began recruiting and honestly I just didn't need to be "that good" and my parents couldn't afford the time nor money required to make that happen. As such, I continued playing youth soccer, then tried baseball, then basketball for one season, then soccer 1 year in high school. Mom and dad never pushed and youth sports are some of the best memories we have together because we were having fun. Of course we were competitive...but we didn't try to turn me into a super star before I had my big boy teeth.

Parents today seem a bit obsessed with such things. I can only attribute this to the fact that we've taken the competition out of so many other things...that competitive sports is the last bastion of "I lose" left in America. There are other ways but sports do provide a convenient vicarious way for moms and dads to live through their little star.