In the past, when anyone asked if my kids were on select sports teams, I would shake my head and say, “Just call me a bad mom, but I’m not interested in giving up my life to a sports team”. Of course, I always maintained that if one of my kids had a serious passion for playing a game, I’d consider it. But at the time, I never had to worry about it. Sports was for fun. It was a hobby to do on your off-time, to get exercise and learn to work with a team. None of my kids ever cared about getting really, really good. That is, until now.
Not only does my teenage girl love one sport, she loves two. Volleyball and softball are her passions. I can see it in her enthusiasm to play. I can see it in her determination to be not only on time for practices, but early. Before school. In the dark. And let’s face it, if a teenager is giddy about getting up at 5:30 on a Saturday, to be at school by 6:15, to play in a tournament lasting all day and possibly into the night, then she’s got a definite passion for the game.
Extracurricular sports isn’t what it used to be. It’s not just playing with the church league like I did when I was a teen. A recreation league is now frowned upon as the place where beginners and “maybe not so talented” girls play. Select leagues are where it’s at. You know, those leagues with paid coaches, and thousands of dollars in fees, and traveling across the state (or even the country) for tournaments.
Team sports is now big business. It’s a kid’s route to a potential college scholarship. It’s intense and demanding. I’m sorry that kids today have to start playing so young to begin acquiring their skills if they want to excel. If they want to play high school sports, or college sports. Just like the Olympic athletes – they’ve spent their entire lives working toward that athletic excellence, and their families have devoted their own lives to that excellence. But does the cost (on many levels) outweigh the benefits? I guess it just depends.
I think the passion will make the difference. If the passion is there, then maybe it’s all worth it. Not many people get the sincere pleasure of pursuing their passions in life. It’s a privilege and a rare thing to do what you truly love to do, day in and day out. So if the opportunity presents itself……? We’ll see.