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are travel and elite sports ruining our kids? EDIT** in red

Posted by Anonymous   + Show Post

Do your kids play travel or elite sports? Do they play a year round sport before the age of 15?

I hear parents all the time commenting about their 9 or 10 year old playing these special forms of sports. Its often said to separate their child from those "other" kids who play (gasp) rec sports.

It makes me wonder about the pedistal some parents have put their kids on. These kids are generally the best, or in the top 5 of their limited group of classmates and fellow team mates. Typically these kids are on the older sude and bigger side of their age group. So lets face it, they shoul be better than the younger smaller kids. So what happens to these kids when their age group catches up? How will these "special" kids feel when theyare no longer so special?

I dont know if anyone else here watched the little league world series, but it was something that had my kids on the edge of their seat. And why wouldnt it here were 12yo boys hitting home runs and stealing bases like the pros.....well not really right? They were really 12yo boys playing on a field that mist 9yos are starting to out grow. Yet espn was covering this event as if it were a major league event. Toting these kids as the best of the best. As if america couldnt see through that...i hope. What do you think will happen to those boys when they have to go back to their home towns and try out for their highschool teams on real sized feilds? Have their patentsputting them on this pedistal hurt them?

Wow this kind of went of on a rant....and yeah i know my typing sucks, but imon a phone.

So what is your opinion on this new wave of elite sports?t.


So I was curious this moning to see what others thought about this subject, so I took my questions to google.

Seems not not the only one with these opinions. I read this...and man I could have written this!

http://www.leaguelineup.com/bbr/files/Elite%20Teams%20a%20money%20making%20Paramid%20Scheme.pdf


By Tim Keown 

ESPN.com 

Who really is invested in elite youth sports teams? Is it the kids or their parents? 

Your kid is good, right? Really good? You don't want to brag, but he can do some things on the field that 

other kids his age won't even try. You played a little ball yourself, and you know the difference. 

Make no mistake: There's someone out there for you. He's putting together a team, and he's got a 

pipeline to the best tournaments. He knows people. He'll have tryouts and he'll tell you what you want to 

hear. It's expensive, sure, but who can put a price on your kid's future? If he's got a chance to be the 

best, he needs to play with and against the best, right? 

Judging by the direction we're taking preteen youth sports, it appears we have completely lost our minds. 

Gone crazy -- collectively and individually. It's become something of a hobby for me to read the local 

sports coverage of the three or four sub-20,000 circulation papers in my area, and I am here to report 

that the center cannot hold. 

The days of simply playing ball with your friends is over. It's a different world out there for the preteen 

athlete, with "Elite" and "Select" commonly turning up in the names of our youth sports teams and 

leagues. We're having tryouts for 10-and-under traveling baseball teams, and we've got 10-and-under 

basketball teams traveling the country playing against other fourth-graders at God knows what cost to 

the parents' bank accounts and the kids' psyches. All in the name of … what? Trophies? Exposure? A 

leg up on a college scholarship? The egos of the parents? 

The exploits of these kids, which almost always include tournament championships, national rankings 

from some little-known organization and perspective-free quotes from the coaches, are dutifully and 

breathlessly reported. If you didn't know any better, you'd think the 9- and 10-year-olds in my neck of the 

woods are the most remarkable 9- and 10-year-olds anywhere. But then you could probably say the 

same about yours. You just have to know where to look. 

I found a great nugget the other day: a notice for a 10-and-under baseball team that's having tryouts for 

its extensive fall tournament schedule. The notice included the following sentence: "The team needs 

competitive youngsters who are looking to play baseball at the next level." 


Let's parse that for a moment. Someone needs to explain to me what the "next level" is for a kid who's 10 

or younger. I dare you to define it. Is it 11-and-under? Maybe 12-and-under? And if so, are there really 

10-year-olds who are striving to play baseball at the 12-and-under level? Wouldn't it just happen naturally 

-- you know, with age? 

If you think that, you're behind the times. This is the age of the special child. This is the age of the parent 

who believes his or her kid playing Little League for the neighborhood team is beneath them both. 

(Despite the talent you see at the Little League World Series, make no mistake: Little League has 

suffered enormously at the hands of the folks who peddle dreams to the parents of the preteen set. Local 

independent teams -- most of them touting the supposed benefits of year-round play -- skim top players 

out of neighborhood Little Leagues.) This is the age of the youth-sports industrial complex, where men 

make a living putting on tournaments for 7-year-olds, and parents subject their children to tryouts and 

pay good money for the right to enter into it. 


There are palaces built just for the purpose of housing these tournaments. Big League Dreams is a chain 

of West Coast baseball complexes with multiple diamonds that attempts to replicate different big league 

ballparks. There's a bunch of 10-year-olds playing in Fenway, the 12s in Yankee Stadium and the 13s in 

Wrigley Field. (You haven't really lived until you've seen Wrigley's ivy-covered wall painted onto slabs of 

plywood. There are times you have to pinch yourself.) The fields are spokes that extend from the hub -- 

an air-conditioned restaurant and bar, where parents can sit inside and watch games away from the 

infernal heat. 

They go through every player's backpack as he enters -- and yes, there's an entrance fee -- to make sure 

he isn't trying to smuggle in any outside food or drink. PowerBars and Gatorades are confiscated. 

There are buzzwords in this business, sure to coax the gullible parent. The big three terms are "elite," 

"select," and "travel ball." Oh, the power of those words. Waving the prospect of "travel ball" under the 

nose of the ambitious father of a talented 9-year-old is like wafting a steak under the nose of a sleeping 

dog. After all, the more you travel and the farther you go to play a sport, the better you must be at that 

sport, right? 

"Travel ball," in this world, is meant as a synonym for "better ball." Parents say, "Oh, he plays travel ball," 

as a means of separating their kids from the riffraff who don't see fit to spend thousands of dollars to 

travel all over the place with their 9-year-olds. And if it's "year-round travel ball" -- a red flag across the 

orthopedic medical community for the dangers of repetitive overuse -- all the better. It's a status symbol, 

one promoted by parents and justified by the guys who collect tournament fees, and it's the main reason 

baseball in this country is widely becoming the province of wealthy suburbia. 

The action and drama was terrific at the Little League World Series game beweeen Georgia and 

Kentucky. But it's possible the very best young talent isn't playing Little League ball. 

Another nugget: A 10-and-under AAU basketball team from my Northern California town got the lead 

story in the sports section about a week ago. They've won six of seven tournaments, we're told, and they 

aren't stopping there. The coach is quoted as saying, "I am looking to go to North Carolina and Houston. 

And there may be a New York tournament." 


In the bylined story -- and yes, I remember the days when I had to cover Little League and adult softball 

(gack) for a local paper -- we are treated to thumbnail descriptions of the team's two best players before 

we're left with the following walk-off quote from our coach: "Some parents claim they're the best team in 

[the county]. I must agree with them."….These are 9- and 10-year-olds, which raises a question: 

What the hell are we doing? 

Here's one thing we're doing: We're creating a class of kids who are being labeled with terms such as 

"elite" and "competitive" and "best of the best." They're being worshipped by their parents and coaches, 

who keep statistics to post online and send photographs to the local paper. It's organized insanity. 

And this is just something to think about, but if there are countless elite and select teams where I live, 

how elite and select can they be? 

We went through a culture shift in American education in which self-esteem became a major focus. 

Slower kids became "challenged" or "special" as a means of eliminating pejoratives. A lot of good came 

of it; kids who were branded with demeaning terms found strength in their differences. 

Well, the pendulum has sure swung, hasn't it? We're nearing the point in youth sports where we need to 

stop the "elite" and "select" madness because we're raising a generation with too much self-esteem. 

They can't handle failure because they've been conditioned to believe they're too good to fail. They're 

being placed on teams that identify them as better than their peers on the whim of either a parent/coach 

or a businessman/coach. 


We're nearing the point in youth sports where we need to stop the "elite" and "select" madness because 

we're raising a generation with too much self-esteem. They can't handle failure because they've been 

conditioned to believe they're too good to fail. 

Parents line up to have their kids try out for under-10 fall baseball teams, where tiny kids compete for the 

right to have their arms trashed by pitching in four different games over two days of a weekend 

tournament put on by a for-profit organization that gives teams 10 minutes between games to warm up. 

There is the allure of better coaching (sometimes true), better gear (nearly always true) and better 

competition (debatable). Still, is there anything dumber than holding tryouts for 9-year-olds? We're not 

talking about Little League tryouts, which don't include cuts and are intended to place kids at the 

appropriate level for their ability. No, we're talking about putting 9- and 10-year-olds through an extensive 

tryout to keep some and cut others. 

And then, five years down the line when Little Johnny decides to trade his bat and glove for a skateboard 

and a piercing, his parents can scream and yell about the travel ball coach who ruined baseball for their 

son by taking their money and not playing him. It's an overgeneralization, sure, but the whole operation 

has a way of surgically extracting the fun out of a sport at an age when fun is all it should be. 

Here's what the dream-peddlers don't tell you: Anyone who has spent more than five innings watching 

10-year-olds play baseball -- or one half of a basketball game -- knows that athletic ability in a kid that 

young is directly related to physical maturity. The kid with hair under his arms in sixth grade is going to hit 

the baseball farther than the prepubescent kid who can't get out of the dugout without tripping over his 

own feet. It's really not that hard. 

When I played youth baseball -- it was called "Fly League" where I grew up -- everyone knew the legend 

of Buddy Wall. He was the 5-foot-10 guy from the other side of town who struck everyone out, hit 

mammoth homers and bench-pressed 225 at 12 years old. He was a couple of years older than me, and 

I lost track of him after Fly League days. Then, when I was 16 and showed up for the first day of practice 

for a local 16- to 19-year-old team, the coach had all the players introduce themselves. One guy, 5-10 

with a full beard, said, "My name's Buddy Wall." 


I was stunned. I wanted to yell out, "No! You're not Buddy Wall! Buddy Wall is bigger than life, and you're 

a backup outfielder on an average summer-league team." But he was Buddy Wall, and he still liked to 

play baseball even though the rest of the field had caught up with him. Today, Buddy would have been a 

travel-ball wonder at 9, feted and honored throughout the land. I'm guessing it would have made the 

inevitable fall to 19-year-old backup summer league outfielder that much harder to take. 

ESPN The Magazine senior writer Tim Keown co-wrote the autobiography of Pawn Stars' Rick Harrison. 

"License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and my Life at the Gold & Silver" is available on Amazon.com. He also co- 

wrote Josh Hamilton's autobiography, "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back," 




Posted by Anonymous on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:28 PM
Replies (21-30):
justinnaimee
by Platinum Member on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:50 PM
2 moms liked this
My 6 year old does gymnastics. Her first competition is this weekend. She told me she wants to do gymnastics in the olympics. If that's the case she has to start young and be dedicated. She may choose not to go that far as she grows but I refuse to be the one to stifle her dream.

That said she is neither the biggest, oldest, or best in her class. (In fact shes the youngest and smallest) But she puts in the work and she loves it.
Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:50 PM
Im sorry, i think thete is a communication gap. Im talking beyond school sports to elite teams. Teams that people pay thousands a year to be on.

School sports of course have their own impact.

Quoting Dzyre1115:

 We live in an area where sports dominate, as a matter of fact, in his private high school, you MUST play a sport, there are no scrub teams that don't travel.  You either play on, "THE TEAM", or you don't play at all and many, many children sit the bench, while children, like my son, play multiple positions so they can win.  The mental impact varies based on the coach, the sport and the season.  His coach turned on him his junior year, in an ugly way, and it was downhill after that.  The impact on his confidence was harsh.


Quoting Anonymous:

Injury is of course a concern, but im more curious about the mental impact on our youth when they play elite teams at young ages. Typically these are teams that profit off selling you the idea that being on their team will get your child somewhere.

I feel in General sports are great for children.


Quoting Dzyre1115:


 My oldest son played football for fourteen seasons starting at the age of four.  At the end of his junior year he called it quits.  It was his full time, nine months a year, job, for so long.  It wore him out and he watched a very close friend get a life changing head injury.  I was disappointed but now, after one of my high school friend's nephew shot himself and his girlfriend after years in the game and countless concussions, I am grateful that he got out when he did.  The thought of him playing college ball just scares the death out of me now.  Too much injury risk, too much mental illness, it's just not worth it.


 

Anonymous
by Anonymous 3 on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:52 PM
Thank u for setting her straight!


Quoting Anonymous:

I don't really know what your beef is, but I am living in reality here.  It's not hype, it is the way it works.  I have taught and coached at a high school for 20+ years and I know the score. If you don't like it, then don't participate, but those of us that want our kids to have a chance to play in high school know what has to be done prior.



Quoting Anonymous:

I have 3 kids, 13,10 and 8....all play sports. My husband coaches and, although it kills me, my 10 plays aau baseball.



It sounds like ypuve bought the hype.



Quoting Anonymous:

You obviously have not been involved in the sport's scene for a while.  It's unrealistic at all. In fact, skill levels are well established by 5th grade and if a kid has not been playing prior to that, then they will have difficulty making a team. Of course if you live or attend a school where there is little to no competition, then it's not a true statement.  We live in a suburb where on the average 95 kids try out for 12 spots on the team and if you haven't played club, then you have no chance.  In fact the AD told the parents this at the fall sports meeting three weeks ago.




Quoting Anonymous:

That seems unrealistic. Typically a coach is looking for the best, not the ones who played elite sports. Talent is talent, doesnt matter where youve played.





Quoting mjande4:

My kids do play club ball, but here's why.  They would not stand a snowball's chance in hell of making the junior high teams, let alone the high school's, IF they did not play club now.  We play basketball, football, and volleyball.









Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:52 PM
1 mom liked this
Again, ill use tom brady as an example....clearly even highschool is not too late.

Quoting Anonymous:

I have seen it with my own 2 eyes. Usually its a kid who has specialized in one sport all through his early adolescence and then somewhere around ms trys his hand at something else. Too late. The kids that have been playing his second choice get onto the team and he gets cut. Tough but true.




Quoting Anonymous:

Thats not true at all. You people have been brain washed by this idea that if your kids dont start early they can never be goid enough.





Thank god people like tom brady was never told this. What would football be today if he avtualy believed tht?





Quoting Anonymous:

You are absolutely correct.you have to start playing in preschool to EVEN have a chance at playing elite ball or even hs ball.








Quoting Amanda52007:

Agree with EVERYTHING you said. 

If you don't KNOW the game by the time you hit 6th grade, you can forget it around here. Middle school teams are competitive and small numbered...the kids have to know the game AND have an advantage over other kids to make the cut. 

We play soccer for a league here.

Quoting Anonymous:

You obviously have not been involved in the sport's scene for a while.  It's unrealistic at all. In fact, skill levels are well established by 5th grade and if a kid has not been playing prior to that, then they will have difficulty making a team. Of course if you live or attend a school where there is little to no competition, then it's not a true statement.  We live in a suburb where on the average 95 kids try out for 12 spots on the team and if you haven't played club, then you have no chance.  In fact the AD told the parents this at the fall sports meeting three weeks ago.






Quoting Anonymous:

That seems unrealistic. Typically a coach is looking for the best, not the ones who played elite sports. Talent is talent, doesnt matter where youve played.









Quoting mjande4:

My kids do play club ball, but here's why.  They would not stand a snowball's chance in hell of making the junior high teams, let alone the high school's, IF they did not play club now.  We play basketball, football, and volleyball.










marrionsmommy
by Bronze Member on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:52 PM
My 6 yr old os on an elite wrestling team..he is the only 6 yr old and youngest on the team. He is being challenged on this team and wasnt when he was on the beginner squad. He has grown leaps and bounds. This week they have a tourny and he will be wrestling up to the 8 yr old division so that he can get good competition.He is a competitive kid and wants to be better so we let him. I think parents that hold their kids back from competitive teams are doing their kids a great disservice. They learn how to lose and win gracefully and how to push themselves past their supposed limits. They also learn what it truly means to win, not just get a medal, but to do better than even they thought they could.
Ms_mom_81
by Gold Member on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:52 PM

my son is really good at soccer and played all year around. He is not bigger than most boys his age. He is really good and works hard.

JTROX
by Platinum Member on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:53 PM

Don't knock the LLWS.  I look forward to watching it every year.

Many of the boys on those teams continue to excel in sports, even making it to the pro level.

lenashark
by Ruby Member on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:54 PM

My six year old son plays tennis on an elite team. He isn't big for his age, he is actually a little smaller and thinner than most kids his age, he's simply a strong player, probably because he started very young and is very quick on his feet and he does other activities that require a lot of upper body strength, like sailing. We tried the rec teams and it wasn't fair to anyone, it wasn't fair to the other kids who didn't play as strong and weren't on the same level so it was an unfair match and it wasn't fair to my son who wasn't being challenged, so the coach suggested moving him to the elite kids. After parents were constantly complaining when their kids had to play my son, saying it wasn't fair, I decided to take his advise since I didn't want it to turn into a negative experiance. They make teams based on skill, not age, so he is with kids who are older than he is, some of then early teens. Its entirely a possibility that he will peek and five years from now the kids who he was beating so easy now will end up catching up and he will no longer be an elite player, and that is fine, I don't care about how good he is as long as he's having fun. I'm not putting him on a pedistal, I'm just not ignoring his abilities,  he's simply a stronger player than most kids his age and I want him to get the most out of it. I never put pressure on him over it, he knows he could stop at any time and that he could end up not being the best all of the time, but he just plays it because he loves the sport.

Dzyre1115
by Desiree` on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:55 PM
I know what you're talking about, I am from a place where elite teams were very popular. I am telling you that those teams don't exist here, there's no need, the school teams are the elite. The school districts run all of the sports from toddler on up and if you haven't played from the beginning, your odds of ever playing are slim to none.
Quoting Anonymous:

Im sorry, i think thete is a communication gap. Im talking beyond school sports to elite teams. Teams that people pay thousands a year to be on.

School sports of course have their own impact.

Quoting Dzyre1115:

 We live in an area where sports dominate, as a matter of fact, in his private high school, you MUST play a sport, there are no scrub teams that don't travel.  You either play on, "THE TEAM", or you don't play at all and many, many children sit the bench, while children, like my son, play multiple positions so they can win.  The mental impact varies based on the coach, the sport and the season.  His coach turned on him his junior year, in an ugly way, and it was downhill after that.  The impact on his confidence was harsh.


Quoting Anonymous:

Injury is of course a concern, but im more curious about the mental impact on our youth when they play elite teams at young ages. Typically these are teams that profit off selling you the idea that being on their team will get your child somewhere.

I feel in General sports are great for children.


Quoting Dzyre1115:


 My oldest son played football for fourteen seasons starting at the age of four.  At the end of his junior year he called it quits.  It was his full time, nine months a year, job, for so long.  It wore him out and he watched a very close friend get a life changing head injury.  I was disappointed but now, after one of my high school friend's nephew shot himself and his girlfriend after years in the game and countless concussions, I am grateful that he got out when he did.  The thought of him playing college ball just scares the death out of me now.  Too much injury risk, too much mental illness, it's just not worth it.


 

Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:55 PM
How did he playboth? Arent they both different leagues of town ball? How could you be in both?

Typically the kids playing in either are not playing elite baseball. Elite baseball would take you to competition like cooperstown.

Quoting sheramom4:

My brother went to the Little League World Series as well as the Babe Ruth League World Series ( they won that one) and both of my brothers played elite level baseball. I was an elite level dancer. My middle DD will join elite level dancing next year. To me, it is all about balance. We always had time to be kids and mine do as well. Not every moment was about our sport. And to get into any high school or college sport, you need those elite level credentials. Same with dance. My DD will have a better chance at dance team and dance scholarships because of her choice of sport and her dedication to it. 

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