My son just had a flag football game today, and the whole thing actually put me in a funk.
This is our second year playing Upward Flag Football and it has been the best experience. If you’re not familiar with Upward, check them out! It’s a faith-based sports program dedicated to teaching the mechanics of the game (they do soccer, basketball, flag football, and cheerleading) with an emphasis on equal opportunity and playing time, as well a focus on good sportsmanship and the idea that every child is a winner. In my opinion, its an awesome way to introduce a game to little kids, teach them to understand the game, but still have loads of fun.
They don’t even keep score.
Which in my opinion for a bunch of 7 year olds is absolutely fine. It’s great in fact! They will have all of their teen and adult years to keep score and have others keeping score of them.
I’ve noticed this trend of uber-competitive sports involvement since I’ve had a child old enough to be playing organized sports, and I have to tell you….I just don’t get it?! What ever happened to boys starting to play tackle football for the first time in middle school? And when did little kid teams start traveling out of state for games? And no wonder by the time some kids are getting to college now, they’re burnt out on something they used to love. When did childhood sports become about domination and having to be the best and chiding your kids that they’re not good enough unless…?!
We have a friend who played football at Boston College and he said the same thing. If you start too competitive too young, somewhere along the way, the love of the game gets lost.
And I want to know too why are little boys who’s bodies are just growing are focusing on tackling and hitting one another before their brain even has the chance to learn cursive writing?!
Today at our flag football game, one kid literally tackled another one and knocked him flat on the ground. I get it, you might dive after a flag and knock somebody over, but that’s not what this was. All of the parents on the sideline gasped in unison as we held our breath to make sure he was ok. But then the part that really shocked was when the coach of the tackling offender began to loudly clap and yell “Way to stop ’em buddy!”…and then more claps. Then yelling at the kids on his team to circle up to get ready for the next play while poor Josh was still flat-backed on the ground.
Are you kidding me?!
No “Hey buddy, are you ok?!”… or to the kid that knocked him down, “Make sure he’s alright…how about helping him up?”
Just claps and “circle up” and don’t worry about the kid you just tackled in a no-tackle game.
So their team went on…passing the ball to the same 3 highly athletic kids, not giving a fair shot, and for me…destroying the reason we play in this league.
When you’re 7, a game should still be a game. It should be fun.
The reality is that most of our kids do not have a career in professional sports ahead of them. So why do we act like they do?
I realized today too that the way we behave as parents at our kids sporting events has the capacity to completely enhance or ruin the fun for everyone. The parent who’s yelling at their kid who can’t keep their hands wrapped around the ball. The parent of the super athletic one who gets ticked off if their kid doesn’t get to play the whole time. The parent who purchases literally every single bit of unnecessary gear for a non-competitive flag football league to make sure their child gets noticed. We, the parents, set the tone for everyone.
It’s all really messed up. And it messed me up today too. It made me mad, and it made me sad, and I just don’t understand what’s so darn wrong with letting kids be kids and play a game for FUN.
I read a quote one time that says, “Children need the freedom and the time to play. Play is not a luxury, it is a necessity.” By definition the word “play” actually means, “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”
Why so serious ya’ll?!
Why can’t we hold off on the intense sporting stuff til they’re old enough to decide for themselves that they want it? Why must kids be on traveling teams when they have barely learned how to tie their own cleats? And why do parents get so up in the mix that they ruin it for everyone?!
And I can only do my part I guess and not be that way. Even feeling angry about this today isn’t exactly the best response, I know that. Maybe I’m crazy, but I kinda think that childhood should be fun, and that playing on teams when you’re little should be about learning to work together, being fair, and practicing good sportsmanship.
They are called GAMES for a reason.