Monday, February 11, 2008

Kids in Sports

Alex is playing AAU basketball with a team of girls from most of the area middle schools. They've been playing together for about three weeks now, and last weekend was their first tournament. The plan was to play twice a week together and hopefully do a tournament a month until May or so.

The first thing I learned after last weekend, which is something I've suspected for awhile now, is that I don't like watching soccer. I don't mind watching Alex once in awhile, but it just doesn't hold my interest. The teams we played at this basketball tourney were thrilling to watch. The level most of these teams played was probably three times better than Alex's school team, the pace of play at least twice as fast. I hardly noticed that we got killed four times in four games. The basketball that our girls stepped up and started playing was amazing.

That being said, I'm fairly certain that most of the girls, at least on the first three teams we played, do not play other sports. The first team we played was an Auburn team, and one of the girls was from Thunder Mountain Middle School, which is in our league. I'm pretty sure I didn't see this girl playing school ball. One of the coaches told us that this team had played 60 games so far (starting in September) and we heard one of the girls mention four-night-a-week practices.

I would love for Alex to be that good at basketball. I mean, some of the girls, in no way, shape or form, even looked like athletes, but could play circles around our girls. But Alex loves playing soccer and volleyball, and to be that good, I don't think she'd be able to do her other sports.

I've actually been analyzing non-stop since yesterday the ways in which sports have changed for our kids. Will some of these girls even play school basketball? Or is that not even the goal? I know Alex's soccer coach, even though he played two sports in high school, doesn't want his players playing other sports. I know his daughter, who is one of the best on our team, is not playing school soccer. I heard she did, but quit. I could be wrong. I always look back on high school and think I had so much fun, and sports was a huge part of that. I mean, sure you can play select this or premier that, but are you going to have a crowded gym of your peers behind you and the pride of winning FOR YOUR SCHOOL on the line? I guess girls sports don't always get the crowded gym, so maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe you'll grow up thinking, oh, I played soccer, but I was actually too good for the school team, so I played premier and that was fun enough.

How can you know when you are 7 that you only want to be the best basketball player ever and not that you actually have the talent to be a state champion high jumper? Unless track has changed, also, when I was growing up, you didn't figure out you had a talent at high jumping until you tried it because you didn't want to run, but still wanted to be on the track team in the eighth grade.

Then I look at these girls and think they can't all be doing it because their parents want them to. Some of them have to LOVE it themselves. You can make a kid do something, but if that innate desire isn't there, it's not going to keep them interested. I've always been so excited for Alex that she is actually pretty good and that she does love sports and that we don't have to cut down on anything because she's also a great student. I've always told her that if her grades suffer, we have to cut out some sports. Would I have the nerve to do that? Do these parents that invest all this money and time for their kids to play this level of basketball or soccer care about grades? Or does the sport take precedence? What is the ultimate goal, a college education? Because you can get a scholarship, but you kind of have to have at least a portion of a brain to go to college.

I guess I saw firsthand back in Oregon when I used to type papers for spending money. I typed this paper for this running back, Elliot. I was so impressed with his paper. When I told him that I thought it was a great paper, he said, Oh really? Good. The unmistakable impression being, of course, that he hadn't even read it.

I don't know that I'd do anything different with Alex. Maybe not encourage soccer so much... but she loves the game and she's told me more than once that she likes that it keeps her in shape. I guess if she wanted to drop everything and head to Auburn four times a week for basketball, I'd really have to put some thought into it.


jana said...

Sold papers in college? I'd never heard that before. Mom will be so proud!

Robyn said...

TYPED papers. DUH.

Robyn said...

TYPED papers. DUH.