As a parent, you may ask yourself, “what’s the big deal? So my kid has stopped playing sports. He will find other things to do with his life.” You may be right, but I would ask you to consider a few things:
Why did they start playing organized sports? Was it because you encouraged them? Was it their idea? Did they get into it because their friends were playing sports too? Regardless of the reason, I would venture to guess that they had fun. Mostly because they were playing with kids their age, their friends and some who became their friends.
I often think about the days when I played volleyball, not as a kid, but rather as a young adult. Whether it was on the beach, indoor for league or mixed grass tournaments, they were good times. I have fond memories of the friends I made (and still have) and the competitions, which seemed to make it all worthwhile. But to appreciate why the adult world of sports was so dear to me, you have to understand where it all began: when I spawned a love to play sports. Any sport!
It all started with me playing sports as a kid. A pick-up game of baseball, street hockey or basketball to name a few. Organized sports taught us me the basics and finer points of the game, but the impromptu touch football game or the 500-and-your-up baseball game (anyone remember that one?) is what made it all fun. When I was in my teens, we used to frequent the junior high school during the summer where they ran a drop-in centre. We would play basketball during the day, volleyball at night. It was all unplanned, unorganized, mixed with guys and girls, and highly competitive. I so looked forward to those summer days back then.
I never wanted to stop playing sports after high school, and I did not. But why do so many of today's kids stop playing sports after high school? Don't they know what they're missing? I'm not saying all stop, but many do. Is it because they were pressed so hard by their overbearing parents to succeed at all costs in their athletic endeavours that they finally said, no more?
When your adult child no longer plays sports, they are being denied so many great experiences. Social interaction, physical conditioning, lots of fun and more!
However, those that do still play get it. In June of this year, I was at the Steveston Salmon Festival in Richmond, BC, and there was a large grass tournament taking place. There had to be 30 or more courts with teams playing reverse mixed 4's on a grass field. The event was well attended with lots of young people, playing hard and having fun. Many a married couple have come out of these types of athletic events. I met my spouse at one of those events, and it was the best thing that could ever have happened to me.
So whatever your kids interests are, whether its sports, music, camping or the arts, if you push them so hard that it is no longer fun, they will stop playing in their tracks. Maybe not when they are still under your roof, but when they leave they may never ever play again. Not the kind of parental risks anyone should be toying with, don't you think?