Stats Dad posted a very interesting question in a series of posts about sports specialization at an early age:
“Is it fair to commit to two different teams in the same season?
Fair to the respective coaches, fair to both sets of teammates,
fair to other parents who spend a lot of money to be on a team with high expectations?”
Recently, I’ve struggled quite a bit with this very issue. As you may know, both my girls play year round club soccer at a high level. They are both on the “A” team for their age groups and have worked hard to earn and keep their spots. We don’t commit to anything but church, school and soccer. (They’ve also done girls scouts at times) Any free time they have is spent playing with friends, hanging out and time with the family. I guess it sounds crazy, but they play futsal (indoor soccer) once a week, have practice twice a week, attend a striking session once a week and then usually play games on the weekend. Every new season we discuss whether they want to continue and that they need to make their team a top priority- that means attending every practice and working hard to excel. I believe you owe that to a team and for a team to be successful every player needs to make that kind of commitment.
That’s not to say that I disagree with girls playing other sports. In our area, softball is also very popular and there’s a girl on our little team that plays both. Her parents have been very upfront about her commitment to softball and our coach has been very accommodating. She will miss several important scrimmages and some training sessions, but her commitment to the team is evident in her parents’ communication and effort to bring her to every event possible. Her softball will finish before our summer tournament season really gets started. Would she have developed quicker if she didn’t miss so much to play softball? Would the team be better with her there? I believe the answer to both questions is yes, but she is a hard working little girl and will catch up.
Something that does bother me is parents trying to fit too many things into their kids’ lives. We have friends who I just love, but their daughter never seems to have time to breathe. They have kept her playing recreational “select” soccer along with club and she is able to play “up.” I know that she has had a great time playing with those girls, but I feel that it has had a negative impact on our team. They’ve been in the same futsal league and it’s always an issue if she’s going to play with our girls or her other team. Our coach recently let them know that she can’t play against her club team so she either needs to play with us or skip the game. The whole thing just gives me a pit in my stomach- especially because I like them so much!
So my answer to Stat Dad’s question is no, I don’t think it’s fair to commit to two different teams in the same season- especially to the other kids on the team. I think that kids who would like to play two sports consecutively should play on lower level teams so that someone who is 100% committed gets the spot on the top team. If the sports are not during the same season, I think that it can be worked out as long as the parents and coach have good communication and the parents go the extra mile to make sure that the child gets to as many events for both teams as possible. But, having said that, it’s every parents’ job to figure out what is right for their child and I completely respect that. I also believe the coach needs to do what’s right for their team and not include players who are going to not be able to commit during the season. Playing two sports during the same season may be very beneficial for the player, but not for the team.
What do you think? Does your child play more than one sport at the same time?