June 2, 2013

Over the top

Of my four children, the youngest, Crash, is the best athlete.  I don't say that to diminish anything the others have done, or would like to do, but it has been undeniably apparent, since the first time he threw a ball, that Crash has a heaping measure of natural athletic ability.  In addition to his natural ability, Crash loves all things sport-related.  And he has a fierce competitive streak.

While we love sports, and our children, we aren't fixated on grooming them for some future opportunity.  We have tried to expose the kids to a wide range of activities and let them choose what it is they enjoy.  It is clear that Crash loves anything with a ball.  He likes hockey, but all it took was one afternoon at the ice rink for him to decide that he wouldn't ever excel at that sport.

For the past several weeks, Crash has played flag football.  One afternoon per week his team learned skills and ran drills, and on Saturday mornings they played games.  Every Saturday for the past six weeks, as we sat in the bleachers cheering (and trying to remind Crash that this was not tackle football), there was a peripheral activity that caught our attention on the neighboring field.

Two young boys, I am guessing about 12 and 14-years-old, running drills with a private quarterback coach.  They can't be from our school, as we don't compete at a level that would ever attract the sort of notice that they are being groomed for.

A sixth grader and an eight grader, with their dads, a coach, and his support staff of two additional people that run routes, catching and returning the footballs.  It doesn't take an expert to see that the younger boy is better.  His movement is more natural and he has better reflexes.  But, from our vantage point, there is no indication if either of the boys are there because that is what they want to be doing with their Saturday morning.

My husband, who himself was a high school quarterback, has expressed dismay over the number of balls these kids are throwing.  They go through every imaginable drill - slants, footwork, throwing from knees, etc.  They throw for the 90 minutes that we are there, and are still at it when we leave.  Can that be good for a growing kid's arm and shoulder?

Is this what it takes for a kid to make it to high school sports?  Not to mention collegiate and professional?  There is already a dearth of diversity at the quarterback position, and one could surmise that it comes from this sort of early-intervention-high-dollar-private coaching. 

I detest the lack of 'sport' at professional levels.  How many of those millionaires play for the love of the game?  I hate to think of children's sports being transformed into a test of whose daddy has the most money, and missing out on the life lessons that can be learned from honest competition.

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