Monday, October 28, 2013

Things that keep me up at night

Jakson wants to play soccer.  Like, on a team.

I know you are wondering why that is a big deal, but think about it this way:  The average age that a child starts playing soccer is 3-4 years old.  Jakson is 7.  In other words, Methuselah in soccer years (not to be confused with dog years).

During years 3 and 4 of his life, enrolling Jak in a team sport was the furthest thing from my mind.   I don't pay money to watch my kid have a meltdown on the sidelines on a weekly basis.  I can get that in my house for free.   But all of a sudden he is dying to play soccer.   Soccer with children who have played for the last four years and don't exactly want a child who has never stepped foot on a soccer field on their team (though he may have watched a couple of soccer games on TV.  That has got to count for something, right?).   

The fact that he's even expressing an interest is kind of a big deal and I feel like he is finally in a place where he is capable, emotionally and socially, of playing a team sport.  It's a huge step since I would not have said that 6 months ago when he went through his "I cannot be corrected or I will throw things and leap off furniture screaming" stage.   It was one of the best.  Wish you would have been around for it. 

That said, sending Jakson onto the soccer field for the first time as a seven year old feels a little like feeding him to the wolves.  It is setting him up to be bullied.   There are all of these sports groups that tote themes like "fair, fun soccer" or "be kind to others, no one cares who wins", but when it gets down to the field, is that really how the games are played?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not of the "everyone should win and get a medal for trying" mindset.  I don't care if his team wins a single game or if he scores a single goal.  But I do want him to have fun and getting teased or ridiculed is not the same as having a good time.

I could be mistaken.  I hope I'm mistaken.   I want to have faith in the humanity of seven year old boys (and their parents).   But competitive sports seems to bring out the worst in some people and I'm not sure I am ready to have my innocent boy be on the receiving end of bad behavior.

Maybe I can convince him to be a gymnast instead. 

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

My 7 year old played soccer for the first time last year for a church league and she wasn't the only one there that it was her first year, so don't feel like he will be the only one. I think I remember you saying you live in Houston (though maybe I am completely wrong), but if so, email me and I will let you know the league we played for. It was a very low key kind of thing, practice once a week and 1 game on Saturday.

Mac said...

Please try.
If you have a local AYSO league, their entire culture is that everybody plays and they work to have balanced teams and fields/objectives that are age appropriate.
We started my son at 6 and my daughter at 9. Not one kid was mean to either of them and the parents are all there for the same reason; to let their kids learn to like soccer. Not to win. Not to be pro athletes. Just to learn to like the game.
Try it. You can always decide against it. But the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to just try.

bethany said...

I am happy to have received several promising stories from parents that reflect the best case scenarios, rather than my worst case vision. Thanks for all of your encouraging words and great personal accounts-makes me feel like maybe we can do this whole soccer thing. We're thinking about having Zak volunteer as a coach just to have our finger on what's going on, but I am going to be looking for a spring soccer team for him! :)

Cece said...

I have 3 kids and we've been playing soccer for about 4 seasons now (AYSO). Fall soccer is way more popular than spring soccer so spring may be a good place to start. And at this age of 7 (Under 8 division) is a great thing to start because they do not keep official "score" and it's about learning the game and having fun. At 8, (Under 9 & Under 10 division) things definitely change as scores are kept, points are awarded and there's a playoff and championships to work towards. I noticed a huge difference in abilities and attitude after age 7. Hth

Covey and Justin said...

We joined a leage called i9 sports--eveyone was horrible and Elijah (who is 7) didn't stick out. In fact the first day the primary goal was getting them to run in the right direction. Now THAT is my kinda team!!!

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