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JP Moms on Winning, Losing or Not Participating in Sports

Each week the JP Patch Moms Council tackles a parenting topic for community discussion.

This week's discussion is about winning and losing (or choosing not to participate in) kids' sports. JP moms Deb Nam-Krane gets the discussion going with her perspective. Ask the Moms Council questions or chime in with your own opinions in the comments section.

: There are plenty of ways children can compete outside competitive sports.

For a couple of reasons, I've chosen not to enroll my children in competitive sports. It's expensive; my children are miserable with seasonal allergies; and having always been the last person picked for dodgeball in school, I know kids can be jerks in those situations, and too many adults will let them.

There are still plenty of other ways children can compete. One of my kids can't ride a bike down the Southwest Corridor without hot dogging past his siblings- including his much older sisters. When we play a board game, my kids want to win- who knew knives came out in Candyland?  I can't ask one to spell or add something without someone else trying to elbow through.

I think a spirit of competition can lead to progress in many things and I don't have a problem praising them for wins.  What I don't approve of is wanting to see someone else lose or taking joy in someone else's failures. Basically, it's unkind. I have had to remind my children of this many times, but fortunately they become more gracious winners around 9 or 10.

Similarly, I don't want to see them abandon something because they might not win. Failure isn't fun sometimes, but it can be instructive. Perseverance is also a good lesson in and of itself. What doesn't kill them makes them stronger... and of course they shouldn't be playing games that dangerous anyway.   

Deb Nam-Krane February 15, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Hi Andree! Between the shoes, the ball and the uniform, I didn't think soccer was cheap either. And baseball? You have to buy a glove too- what?!? :-) And, yeah, ice hockey would have been *really* difficult in CA as well. I can only go by the way people played in school, whether at gym or recess, and I didn't consider those useful lessons about fair play. But I'm willing to believe that teams foster a better experience.
Max "Jay" P. February 15, 2012 at 11:03 PM
It seems like your distaste for organized sports is due to your experience of social ostracization. I gave up sports in high school for a similar reason and regretted that choice when I returned to them in my early 20s. Organized sports, when not forced on a kid, provide regimented physical activity, coordination, and teambuilding. Accepting criticism through coaching (see Atul Gawande on this) and work ethic are also developed. As for the cost, studies show that it's better to spend on experiences than material possessions. Yes, there are a number of negative social aspects that come along with sports, but given the positives, I think it's important to at least let your kids try sports to see if there's a passion there.
Deb Nam-Krane February 15, 2012 at 11:12 PM
We don't spend that much on material possessions either. We don't have a big budget. They get plenty of regular exercise, and thankfully without the regimentation.
Drew February 16, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Organized, competitive sports shaped who I am and kept me sane through often difficult times in childhood, high school and college. Rec leagues still keep me sane, not to mention healthy, even as my knees get creakier. From everything I read, and from anecdotal evidence, sports are particularly good for girls--I intend to encourage my new daughter as strongly as possible to play sports as soon as she is ready. I desperately hope that she decides to participate. Whatever the cost, it is worth it in my view.
Matt February 17, 2012 at 01:11 PM
It would be nice to have more than one opinion on this subject. My parents made me play soccer and join the cub scouts (then onto boy scouts) as a kid, and while I'm not at all into sports now, I'm very thankful they did. I think competition is part of life - especially with strangers or those outside your family. If my parents protected me so much that I wasn't prepared to deal with real situations in life, I think it would have been harder to adjust. Even without extracurricular sports/activities, I suppose children do get a great sense of competition in public school, so at least there's that. =)

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