School sports can play a valuable role in a child’s adolescence. Sports can teach the importance of healthy eating habits, rigorous exercise, sportsmanship, teamwork, determination, time management and how to deal with defeat.
School sports had a big impact on my life. I participated in soccer, cross country and track. Sports were also meaningful to my husband. As parents, we were excited for our kids to have a similar experience.
Unfortunately, school sports taught my kids a lot of things, but not just the aforementioned values.
Because of where we have lived, my children have had the chance to play football at both 5A and 1A levels. Surprisingly, both schools provided much of the same experience; sitting on the bench.
I understand a lot can be learned from sitting the bench. I am under no illusion that all kids are good enough to be starters. Not all kids are gifted athletes. Schools compete to determine who is the fastest, strongest, most skilled, and talented team or individual.
So, what should be done with kids who are not the most athletic, fast or strong? Should anyone who wants to play, be put on the team? Does cutting a student from a sport hurt or help that student?
Cutting kids who want to play sounds like a bad idea, until it is your kid who is sitting on the bench. When it’s your kid on the sideline, no matter the score of the game, what does that teach them about commitment and dedication? When it is your kid who spends three hours a day in the summer, and over two hours a day after school practicing, your opinion might change.
When my kids decided to play high school football, I worried that they might be cut from the team. I worried about how they would handle rejection. After a long summer of intense workouts,I was surprised to learn the school did not have cuts. They allowed anyone to join the team, and asked them to pay a several hundred dollar fee. They took my money, they took my kids’ time and they crushed their love for the sport. Week after week, my kids sat on the bench. And week after week, I encouraged them to speak up, quietly endure, or quit. They chose to quietly endure.
Is it better to cut kids from sports, or should everyone be allowed to play? When schools don’t have cuts, does it dilute the coach’s ability to train his/her athletes? Are schools gladly taking the athlete’s money just to bolster their athletic department?