Plenty of sports parents dream about their child going pro someday. And plenty of youth athletes have that dream too, especially when they truly love the sport they play. But with so many kids leaving youth sports in droves by the time they are 13 clearly something is going awry. You can still love to play even when you know you’re not going pro (and be totally fine with a new dream), so what is happening? Bobby Orr, one of the greatest hockey players ever to hit the ice, said;
So often for players, whether it be a parent or a coach, they suck that love and passion out of the kid by being unrealistic, by humiliating the kids and so on. I couldn’t wait to get on the ice. I couldn’t wait to get to practice. As a kid I couldn’t wait to shoot pucks or play in parking lots, or play on the river or play on the bay. People would come to my father and say, “Your kid’s gonna play pro hockey.” And my dad would come to me and say, “Look, just go and have fun, we’ll see what happens.” Parents have to understand: 0.0057 per cent of all kids playing hockey, that’s the number of players who play one game in the NHL. So why is your kid playing? Why are you coaching? Why are you refereeing? To help make better people. And in helping make better people, you’re going to make better players. If your kid has got it, I guarantee your kid is going to get a chance.
We think Bobby has hit the nail on the head and hope that in 2015 more sports parents take this message to heart. Even if your child is one of the lucky ones, the one in however many thousand that even has the chance of “going pro” (which means getting through high school and usually college first!), they have to LOVE every minute they spend on the field. And that includes the not-so-good moments when they are tired, burnt-out, make a mistake, are frustrated with themselves or their team and so forth. You don’t make it to the elite level in ANYTHING, not just sports, if you don’t live and breathe it every minute of every day.
“Going pro” means making a lot of sacrifices. Even if they just want to play on the elite U-12 travel baseball team, your child is probably going to miss some school events or birthday parties simply because of scheduling; they might not get to go out for the school play or play intramural basketball one season because they are just too busy. There is a lot of debate centered on year-round play, especially when it’s just one sport, but even if your child is a three-sport athlete in the regular league (not the year round travel team) that means they won’t get the chance to try a lot of other extracurricular activates simply because there aren’t enough hours in the day. But as long as your child is happy and healthy then we say let them play.
Here at SportsSignup we are obviously a little biased when it comes to the lifelong benefits of youth sports. We know sports aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we want to help a generation of kids play and learn to love to be active. If they truly love what they are doing than why fret over what will or won’t happen for another decade? As Bobby said, parents and coaches can suck all the fun and joy out of youth sports when they worry about a player “going pro.” Let’s just go have fun!