Concerns about kids sports


I have two children in grades 2 and 5 that are playing sports at the Boys and Girls Club, flag football and volleyball. I decided to put them in at an early age for many reasons. One of these is to exercise so that they can grow up to be healthy young adults. Another reason is for them to develop physically and mentally.

I believe from my memory from playing sports that there are many positives that are learned. Confidence, coordination, team-work and friendship are just a few to mention.

Now on to some of the negatives: $60 per sport to the Boys and Girls club, $50 for shoes, shorts and other stuff. The price of gas has been extreme. Since some of the games are in Philomath, Monmouth, Jefferson, Albany and Mill City, I would say close to $100.

Since I am fortunate that my wife is a stay-at-home mom, the dollar amount for this is priceless. With two kids going different directions she is quite busy; in fact we have had to ask family and friends to help out.

Even with the economy on the downturn we still choose sports for our kids. We just tighten our belts and move forward. I may be wound a little tight because of all this but I still think that it is worth it. My work schedule is to leave the house at 3 or 4 in the morning and get back in town around 5 at night, five to six days a week. I am thankful to provide a good living for my family.

The Boys and Girls Club has provided a great service that we use, but this is why I am writing this letter. At what age do people consider it’s right to coach to win? Do you think second-graders need to be benched so that a team can win? This is a mixed team for flag football, second- through fourth-graders. Do we need to win 46 to 6 to prove a point in elementary ages? Since this is flag, there are no pads worn. I have seen kids clipped in the back and thrown to the ground, I have seen kids knock heads and get dazed. All this has been written off as part of the game.

In other sports that are physical, such as soccer, I hear of the same kinds of things happening. When kids are supposed to be shaking their opponent’s hand and saying “good game,” instead they are telling them “bad game.” These are just a few examples that I have seen or heard about.

Why do I think this is happening? Could be teams are lucky to get two practices in before their first games? Is this enough time to teach preteen kids the rules and ethics of each sport? Should kids, for some of whom this is their first exposure, think this is normal? Just learn on the run, quantity versus quality.

Is it that important to learn the game or just to kick the ball as hard as they can? Will this be what they take with them when they get to high school or will some of them just quit sports all together because of bad experiences? Or will parents not encourage their sons and daughters because when they go watch to support their games, only see their child sitting on the bench or catching butterflies in left field.

I don’t blame the coaches, because they all are donating their time. Every problem that I have had to approach a coach on, they have worked with me. Most I have known for a long time. Some people are content in not saying anything but people like me cannot.

There was an article that just came out that was talking about how injuries in pre-teen athletes are on the rise. Knees and hips were the worst injuries. Girls were said to have a higher rate of injuries under 13. Physical therapists said most of the injuries were caused by poor technique in cutting moves and the fact that their bodies have not matured yet.

My whole goal in putting my kids in sports is for them to grow up to be healthy young adults, not sustain a possible lifelong injury.

I have learned that if I have a big enough problem not to burden a volunteer but to go straight to management. Since my work schedule is pretty late and most times I can’t get out on a cell phone, I played phone tag trying to meet with the Boys and Girls Club athletic diretor. Three days later I got her on the phone and asked for a meeting, the soonest she could meet was in 1 1/2 or 2 weeks because of meetings. I tried to talk over the phone but on issues such as this I would rather do it face to face.

The question at the end of the conversation she asked was, “So this is about your son not getting to play.” She had other things going on and she didn’t mean to cut me short but she had to go. The two days I again played phone tag with the Boys and Girls Club trying to get the club director. When I finally got him I asked for the same meeting. Once again I was denied until 1 1/2 to 2 weeks. This was because of meetings and vacation.

I think that there are probably rules in place that the Boys and Girls Club have that would say most of my problems should never have happened. People are just not taking the time to enforce them. I know that writing this letter is going to make me unpopular with some, considering the Boys and Girls Club was built by the community for the community.

For now all I can do is look eye to eye with people and hope that they realize that they have the safety of my children in their hands.

Maybe it is time for the Sweet Home School District to look again at having sports in our elementary schools once more.

A concerned dad,

Chanz Keeney

Sweet Home