Thursday, September 4, 2008


I like soccer. I do. I enjoy playing it (badly), I enjoy watching it, and I respect the men and women who are so good at it. Well, most of them. But I just don't get the whole Soccer Thing.

When the Soccer Thing hits, entire families can be consumed by the kids' soccer schedules. Some of them are at games and/or practices literally every day of the week, leading one to wonder when they do anything else. Laundry, for instance, of which there must be even more than usual due to all that soccer. Less time and more laundry - it sounds like my idea of hell. Why would you do that to yourself?

Well, because you think it's good for your kids, of course, the same reason we do virtually everything else unpleasant, or difficult, or inconvenient. But is it good for kids? In its policy statement on the topic, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that organized sports can "create demands and expectations that exceed the readiness and capabilities of young participants."
Quite a number of researchers have found troubling trends among kids who play organized sports as young children, from a disproportionately high number of injuries to a surprising disinclination to play sports later in life to a distressing correlation between sports participation and classroom cheating.

All of these researchers hasten to point out that it is not the game itself that is bad. Competition, they write, is not a negative influence per se. Rather, it's the attitude of the adults who are involved in the game that matters; when adults value fair play and teamwork over winning, kids do better. Shocker.

Nothing wrong with soccer, nope. But soccer practice every day? Soccer games every weekend? I don't know. It seems like a bit much to me. Plus, I hate laundry.