Sports: It’s not just a game anymore.

This morning I was visiting ESPN checking to see how Duke was fairing in the polls, when I found this article, NCAA deems 7th Graders as Prospects.  About two weeks ago, I found this article, Barely Teenagers Already Groomed for Football Stardom, thanks to CPYU.org.  Here is a quote from the second article.   “In major sports they start identifying their best players in seventh and eighth grade.”

This stuff makes me sick.  It is no longer good enough for 7th-8th graders to play a sport for the fun of it, and to learn the fundamentals, because at this point we have to start weeding out who is going to be a star and who is not.  Now I have been to enough 7th-8th grade sporting events to know that this type of segregation takes place.  The star kids play multiple positions and get the ball most of the time.  While the quote, “average” or “bad” athletes get little to no playing time. 

Are we considering the long term effects this has.  While parents, teachers, and youth pastors all preach to these kids treat everyone fairly and nicely, they see the utter hypocrisy in those statements when they step out on the field.  Now I realize that by the time they get into upper high school and we are talking about varsity sports that winning is a priority.  I understand that coaches and teachers lose their jobs based on the performance of the team they coach.

But we are not talking about high school sports, we are talking about 12-14 year old kids, that know in jr. high an undefeated season does not lead to glorious state championships, but to a couple months worth of bragging rights. 

Are we not just setting these kids up for misplaced glory and disappointment?  By misplaced glory what I mean is this, I love to listen to parents of 7th-8th graders talk about their glory years of playing school sports.  Isn’t it about time they grew out of those stories.  If the best part of life was playing 8th grade football, there is a problem.  Also the odds of an athlete receiving an athletic scholarship really is not that great.  Now I realize that every kid thinks they will be that 1 in a million, and there is no problem letting them dream.  But isn’t it the parents job to help them be well rounded, and to help them get ready for a number of different options.  They have a much better chance of getting an academic scholarship than an athletic one, but those aren’t as popular. 

In the end I believe we should either stop calling them games, or start treating them like games, because they are not games.  They are pressure packed events, where the few are glorified, and the many are forgotten

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