Despite winning four Superbowls in the ultra-competitive NFL, Tom Brady, now the father of three pre-teens, believes that youth sports have gotten too intense. According to Brady on his weekly radio spot with WEEI, playing sports used to be far simpler when he grew up. Brady spoke candidly about his experience with youth sports as a child, noting that his parents didn't force him to be a one-sport athlete -- in fact, he said, he didn't even play football until his freshman year of high school.
"My parents always exposed us to different things, different sports. It was basketball when it was basketball season, it was baseball when it was baseball season."
Then, Brady discussed how much youth sports have changed since he was a child, commenting how much earlier and earlier the seasons seem to start for those anxious parents. The Patriots' QB even went so far as to hope that his children will be late bloomers so they can accurately chase their desires, even if it's not football.
". . . yeah, you do worry about what their motivation may be as they get older or if they feel like they’ve been in something for so long and it’s been hyper-intense and hyper-focused for so long, I think that can wear out a young individual, a young teenager. It’s just hard, because all the parents are doing it, it seems."
Unsurprisingly, Brady's comments line up with most of our values here at CoachUp and, perhaps even more so, the majority of the posts we've had on this blog. As your children are growing up and becoming their own persons, it's important to let them find out what they most enjoy. Even if you had an illustrious sports career of your own, you can only nudge your child towards that sport for so long. If you force your child to start earlier, play year-round, or become one-sport athletes, consider that you might be burning them out.
Is this what they want? Or is it what you want? All things considered, the human race is in a constant battle to not feel burnt out and tired of doing the same thing over and over. But children? How can they reasonably decide that they want to play basketball every day for the rest of their lives? Youth sports are plenty important for a number of reasons -- building confidence, being social, developing a work ethic, working in a team environment, and so on -- but it shouldn't be the only activity they're committed to. As Brady says,
"[Doing other things is] a great opportunity for the kids to develop lots of parts of their personality . . . The more you’re exposed to, I think the better opportunity is for all kids to figure out what they really want to do in life."
Nearly every job, hobby, and activity on this planet takes a large amount of dedication and passion in order to to reach the top, not just sports. Whether it's cooking or playing music or even becoming an accomplished dentist, all these goals require a focused, strong desire, so perhaps it's best not to force children into puzzle pieces that might not fit the bigger picture. If she takes a liking to science -- wonderful, embrace it! If your son doesn't want to play soccer anymore because he'd rather concentrate on drawing, don't force those cleats back on, they'll just grow to resent it even more.
"I don’t know how it’s taken a turn, but sometimes it’s nice just for kids to be kids."
Preach, Tommy, preach.
Yahoo! Sports -- Patriots' Tom Brady laments that youth sports have gotten too big