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"Do You Know What I Do for a Living?"

From a New York Times story this week on how kids' competitive sports leagues are becoming more and more demanding:

Nancy Lazenby Blaser was a newcomer in the town of Morgan Hill, Calif., just south of San Jose, when she took her 5-year-old daughter, Alexandra, to the local playground. By happenstance, Alexandra became involved in an informal game of softball with a group of other kindergartners.

"One of the other mothers was watching Alexandra and said: 'Hey, she's pretty good. What team does she play on?' " Lazenby Blaser said. "And I said: 'She doesn't play on any team. She's 5 years old.' And the other mother looked at me with this serious expression and said, 'If she doesn't start to play organized ball now, she won't be able to play in high school.'

"And I laughed and said, 'Do you know what I do for a living?' "

Lazenby Blaser is the commissioner of athletics for the central-coast section of the California Interscholastic Federation.

If this anecdote doesn't tell us that something is seriously out of whack, I don't know what will. When we're concerned that a five-year-old isn't playing competitively, I think at least some part of society has gone off the deep end.

My kids have all played in recreational sports leagues while growing up, so both they and I have skipped the intense demands of elite leagues. But I know parents who spend most weekends traveling with their kids's teams -- soccer, volleyball, you name it -- to tournaments in distant places. And as the Times article points out, many sports, especially soccer, are now year-round. When do parents get a break? When do kids get to be kids?

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Comments

As a former coach of high school girls field hockey (former because the pressure from parents was too great) I can honestly say that this topic scares the living crap out of me. Parents are getting more and more competitive...if you don't play their son or daughter (no matter WHAT the skill level is) they call everyone but you. They contact school board members, athletic directors, principals.....It is absolutely horrifying that the main thought process is "at any cost" for their children. Great blog by the way.

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