My son wants to try baseball. He played two years ago and thought it was really boring, but is convinced he’ll like it now. Of course he tells me as the season is winding down. However, I’m the type of parent that just needs a little nugget of interest from a kid and I go off and figure out how to get it started. Google is my best friend.
Since sign ups are in January (why is that?), I really missed the boat on this one, so while I was at the park district for something else, I asked a few questions:
Guest post by Jill Kirby
Jill is a busy mom to five kids — four girls and a boy — who writes a blog called Cheaper Than Therapy, where this story first appeared.
“By any chance would you have any suggestions as to how my son could start or learn how to play baseball?” I asked.
“Well, we don’t really offer anything at this time,” she replied. “But you can sign up next year. How old is he?”
“Eight,” I said.
“Hm, check back next spring,” she suggested.
Another lady at the desk who was there to sign up for a different program felt compelled to grace me with her wisdom. “Ooooh, just starting at nine is kind of late,” she counseled. “Most of the kids have been playing for years. You might want to try another sport that you can get into where it’s ok for a beginner to be old.”
“So, he pretty much has to hang up his cleats before he even puts them on?” I retorted. “I mean, are you really saying he won’t go pro now?”
Clearly not picking up on my sarcasm, she went on. “Sadly, no. My neighbor is in 5th grade and has had a private baseball coach for two years. He’s amazing. I have one son that is showing a lot of promise, but I’m trying to guide my other one that doesn’t seem to have the natural ability into another direction.”
“What teams are we looking at: Cubs, Cardinals, Yankees?” I quipped.
There was a slight giggle. “Not quite there yet,” she continued, clearly certain in her convictions. “But we’re on the path! We’ve been in this baseball world for a long time. If your son starts now, he’ll never get drafted by a good team and if he does, he’ll get picked last. He’s just too old to not have experience. And forget about playing in high school, we could tell you who will be on that roster already!”
Is this really what it’s come to for kids? Do they really need to specialize in a sport by Second Grade? Most of my son’s friends just do one sport. They are very good at it, but most of their free time is spent either at practice or with the team. A lot of those parents may not be thinking pro right away, but they’re all thinking high school, and most college.
I’m not letting my kids pick just one sport until high school. Prior to that, I feel they’re just too young to make that big of a commitment. Plus, I don’t think it’s good physically. I want to scream at all the parents I know and say, “IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT!”
I’ll find an opening for my son next spring — there has to be a Bad News Bears team somewhere. And that spot on the high school roster he’ll never get? Yeah, I’m not too worried. When your kid is icing his stretched-out shoulder or refusing to go to practice because he’s tired of it, my “unskilled” child will just slip (more like breakdance) into the open spot and enthusiastically be eager to learn. I’m really not in a hurry — and it’s a much happier place to be.