When I was a child I could play on any sports team that I chose as long as I met the gender/age criteria. Rarely were there tryouts, and if there were, they existed only to determine the position played within the team, not to exclude participation. Fast forward to the past fifteen years, and every sports team, with exception to city leagues, hold multiple tryouts to determine participation first, then every position from quarterback to water boy. We have become obsessed with being top notch teams and with “supernatural” athletes. If a child is not an excellent, or above average athlete, chances of making a school sponsored sports team of any kind is nonexistent.
A friend of mine once mentioned to a children’s soccer coach that he was trying to decide if he wanted his six-year-old son to play soccer, or pee wee football. He was met with the comment, “at this age he should already be decided and dedicated to one sport.” I wish this were isolated to this one occurrence, but sadly this is the expectation of many coaches, and organizations. Another friend was told that his son needed to attend summer baseball camp at the cost of $6,000 to even be considered for the local high school baseball team, but this was no guarantee.
So many questions come to mind when I think about these scenarios and the situation as a whole. What happens to the children that want to play sports for their school, but fail to play at the exemplary level? What message does this send to our children and society? What is the true cost for perfection in sports? How are enormous salaries in professional sports justifiable?