Thursday, August 23, 2012

What the f*ck are we teaching our kids when it comes to school sports?

It's been a day.  No.  It's been a week.  An 8 day week to be exact.  So maybe, just maybe, I'm a wee bit cranky.  There.  Disclaimer out of the way.

8 day work week or not, I am sick and tired of the way adults in our society function.  Particularly those who organize and coach sports teams.  It's embarrassing.  It's dysfunctional at times.  Most infuriating is that it's downright disrespectful of others, their time, their commitments and their obligations.  How the hell are we supposed to teach our kids to respect boundaries, rules, time frames and be sensitive toward others' lives if their role models can't live it?!

I knew allowing my kids to participate in sports would be a time sink.  What I didn't know and cannot believe happens regularly, is the blatant disregard for the fact some parents actually work full time.  Schedules are vague and only detailed at the last minute.  Then, they are not honored, with running over time a regular occurence it would seem.  Changes are not consistently communicated or communicated in a timely fashion.  Hellooooooo coaches, captains and directors.  You are parents or have them, right?  Did they not teach you the value or respect?  WTF?

Some parents have other children they need to manage or who also have an activity they must juggle.  Some parents are single parents or have a spouse or ex-spouse who doesn't or isn't able to assist with getting kids to/from practices, try-outs, work outs or games.  Some parents work off-hours, weekends, travel or are on-call.  Not all families have the summer or evenings free to be at your beck and call for camps, practices, weight training games and over-time on already scheduled practices.  If you want to have a camp, make it all day for fewer days instead of 10-2 for 5 days! Or just consider the fact parents might actually want their kids to go to bed at a reasonable hour, have time to eat before they play or practice or the parent, might, God forbid, want to do something for themselves!  Can you imagine the nerve?  A parent who wants to do something for themselves?!

My frustration this week is exemplary of my experience with soccer in this area in general.  I need a plan.  I need a schedule.  I need it in advance, as much as possible.  I need consistency.  Once you make that plan, stick to it.  Honor it.  I'm bending over backwards to accommodate your time, you do the same to honor mine.

- Weight training at the high school has been every Tues/Thurs night.  All soccer players are strongly encouraged to go at least once a week.  We've made a valiant effort to make this possible.  This week, it was not happening.  Cancelled?  Over for the duration?? No notification given.  He shows up.  Is told it's not happening and has to wait for his ride.  After the huge inconvenience of having to get him there on time, it was all for not.

-  The younger one has soccer practice 6-7:30.  At times, especially when it was earlier, practice didn't always end on time.

-  I have a game schedule for one but not for the other one for their premier league games.  They play for the same organization but different age groups.  They start in 2 weeks.  I have a life, I have two kids playing on two different teams and likely needing to be in two different places at the same time for the entire season.  I'd like to know the schedule so I can plan since I have not yet been cloned (can you imagine?).  Why the bleep do they not know it yet?

- High school soccer try outs are today and tomorrow.  Today it was 12:30-2:45.  Seriously?  I work full time.  I had to leave work, pick him up at camp, drive 20 minutes drop him off (while he wolfed down his lunch and changed in the car), go back to work, drive back to the school, drive him back to camp, go back to work.  Mind you, this is during the busiest part of my day and I need a computer to do my job.  Add to that I got there at 2:43, try outs finally ended at 3:00.  I didn't have an extra 15 minutes.  I was livid, especially since this is not the first time this has happened.  I didn't have ANY of the time really.  No one else was going to bring him, I am his mother, I'm the one who always has to sacrifice my time when it's woefully inconvenient for everyone else.

It's important to note it's been made very clear if they don't attend all the try outs, it may adversely impact their ability to make the team.  Not that attending all of them is a guarantee, but it gives them the best chance.  This makes sense to me.

Oh, then he tells me they've added another try out Saturday am from 8-9 am.  I actually laughed out loud and said "No!".  He asked why.  I said "Because I am not giving up any more of my time, especially when it was not originally on the schedule.  I've bent over backward to accommodate these try outs as it is.  They can't expect people to just drop everything 2 days before".  If the coach has anything to say about it, he's going to be sorry he pissed me off...

- Tomorrow's try out is a double session.  9-12:30 and 3-5 pm.  The saving grace is he has Freshman orientation in between at the same place!  Maybe there is a Goddess...

Why couldn't they do these try outs in the evening?  It's cooler.  Transportation is much easier for the parents.  Oh, I know... it's inconvenient for the coaches.  Right.

How do we teach our kids respect for other people's time?  How do we teach them about balance in our lives?  How do we teach them to have an understanding for the sacrifices we as parents make to give them the opportunity to do "x".  Telling them doesn't seem to work.  Showing them doesn't always work because of things that are out of our control like soccer, the choices are make it work or don't play soccer.  It's their way or the highway.  I'm sure most sports are like this.   Why?

They are kids!  They should get to be kids.  Practice 4-5 nights a week plus games and conditioning and weight training are fine for college and professional athletes.  These kids are still growing.  They need to focus on school, family, friends and play equally with sports.  What are we doing to them? What are we doing to us?

There should be an easy balance.  This is their childhood.  They should enjoy it, learn values, be fit, learn to manage their time and respect their 'elders', peers and themselves.  The system is not set up to support them it would seem.

Thus, I express my frustration and explain why I'm frustrated.  I try to instill values in my kids but fear they are missing it.  I want to give them as many opportunities as I can, I just wish it didn't come at such a price.  Financially, physically, emotionally or spiritually.  I suppose, when it's game day, and they are excited and proud to run out there and play, it will be worth it.

I hope I live that long...


  1. It sounds like either things are particularly bad in your neck of the woods, or significantly better in mine, since I haven't run into these issues yet. Or it could be that at the age range I'm dealing with it hasn't become an issue yet. The only time I've had a coach throw in an unexpected practice or game is when something was previously cancelled due to weather.

    And speaking as a coach, this part is not easy... "Or just consider the fact parents might actually want their kids to go to bed at a reasonable hour, have time to eat before they play or practice or the parent, might, God forbid, want to do something for themselves! Can you imagine the nerve? A parent who wants to do something for themselves?! "

    I've got only 10 kids to deal with. I have to pick my practice days and times before the teams are even picked. The park district then tries to match up players with the coaches preferred practice schedule as much as possible. But it's not easy. We're an oddity we eat dinner early 5:30-6:00 most nights. Our neighbor across the street with kids the same age routinely doesn't eat dinner until 7:30. So we can't take personal family schedules into account or we'd never get anything scheduled.

    I also may be an exception to the rule. My schedule was available to them day 1 with no plans to change it unless someone tells me I have to. But I'm a project manager and scheduling and communicating are what I do all day... this is just another project.

  2. You are not alone in your aggravation. We endured much the same as far as last minute game changes for baseball this spring. And I felt the same way as you, that no one at the league level respected what parents have to go through to get kids to their various commitments. I can't imagine it is easy to schedule everything, but at the same time, to keep making unexplained changes is just plain rude!

  3. Pete, I think it is the age of the kids. When my kids were younger and just played town soccer it was two nights a week, local, short and manageable. As they move up into competitive leagues, the time and travel commitments get greater but the communication and timing not so much.

    While it's true everyone eats at a different time, my problem is I can't work until 5 pm as I'm supposed do, pick them up from wherever they are by 5 pm and feed them by 5 pm to get them to their practice a half hour from home at 5 pm. It's impossible on every level. I seriously need to consider a job where I work 9-3 to be able to do this and not lose my mind or my job!

    Unfortunately (for me), we live in a fairly affluent area and for most every family there is at least one parent who doesn't work, works from home or works part time so these random, short notice or conflicting/early practices are not an issue. Finding a friend to get a ride is not as easy as one would think since everyone has siblings and other commitments. It's just the reality of competitive sports and multiple children and single parenthood. :-(