My beef with team sports…

Saturday was tournament day for Sai’s basketball club.  He’s still in house league, so while he’s a great player (I’m not being biased here), not all the players are to his level. His team won only one game out of the regular season, and literally every Saturday, I’d wait for the call or text of the how the game went.  You see, I don’t go to very many of his games, because I AM ‘that mom’. I’m ‘that mom’ that gets frustrated that that kid couldn’t catch a simple pass.  I am that mom that wonders ‘did that kid seriously think he can get the ball in from 2 feet behind the free throw line? I AM that mom.  So to save Sai and Robert the embarrassment of my random comments, I’m only allowed to go to his tournaments. Yes, that’s the rule, we won’t tell you who laid that law down.

Anyway, I’ve gotten off track…every Saturday; I needed to find some encouraging words for Sai.  “Did you have fun?”, “Did you learn something new?”, “Dad said you were soooo amazing today!” were all phrases that I’d say in an effort to ease the pain of losing.  Rob (who was one of the coaches) would say “You won’t believe the move he did today! I wish I could have recorded it.”  But regardless of how hard Sai worked, regardless of how great he performed, the wins evaded his team like the plague.  This was hard for Noey, Sai, Rob (who’s part of a basketball team that is undefeated in regular season – they’ve only lost one playoff game – in 3 years!) and of course me.

Last season, the family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) all came out to Sai’s tournament day.  His team won that season.  But this season, I got specific instructions “Mom, please don’t tell anyone about the tournament, we’ve only won 1 game this season so I don’t think we’ll get very far.”  And they didn’t.  While that was heartbreaking, it was reassuring to see the coaches from the other team go up to him exclaiming what an amazing player he was and what a great game he played.  But one child is not enough to carry the team.

Can someone please remind me why team sports are good for kids again? I’m far from the athlete that Rob is.  Actually I shouldn’t even have the word ‘athlete’ in the same sentence as ‘Tricia’…that’s how far off I am.  I’ve never played any organized sport (or unorganized for that matter), I hated gym (even pulled off a double F AND I attended every class…don’t ask, I’m still bitter as that one grade affected my overall average) and up to this day still shy away from any sporting activities.

Despite all of that, I’d like to consider myself a really good team player.  I mean my colleagues love me, my friends love me, my family loves me…and if I didn’t ‘play well’ they wouldn’t right?  I’m very torn right now.  I’m a mom who’s furiously protective of her kids, their feelings and well-being.  I just cannot bear to see them hurt.  So what to do?  How does team sports fit into their lives at this age or is it better left for the teen years?  I mean, thinking back to it, I’m not sure that I ever heard of competitive team sports teams at such a young age when I was growing up.  As far as I can recall, team sports happened in high school and up.  But times are changing…all of their friends are involved in sports.  Some are even zoning in on one sport from as young as Grade 3 and not learning any other sport.  Sai even has a friend who goes to the gym often to help with his strength for hockey.

To be honest, I’m not ready for this.  I just want my kids to go outdoors, play with marbles, ride their bikes, toss a ball around, play hide and seek…I want them to have a childhood free of competition.  And when their little emotions become big enough to handle the pain of failure and the joy of winning, then and only then do I want them in play team sports.  How can I make this happen?  Better yet, is this the right approach?

Crazy momma,


  1. I think I agree with you more than i even like to admit. I really think there is too much emphasis on competitiveness these days, and it goes way beyond into the stands at the games too, doesn’t it? How often do we think about our own childhood fun and how much simpler it seems to have been? Kick the can, and tag, and coloured witch. But that last one may have been made up by us, I don’ t know. But it was fun. Learning to be a valuable part of team is one thing, but being too competitive is another, right? 🙂

  2. Hmmm…not sure if I agree with all the points. I might have had different experiences because of growing up in Trinidad. But I’d still argue that kids have much more to learn in simple games than competitive games this young. We’re not giving children the opportunity to create their own rules, to learn how to play well together in unstructured play (which is how it was when I was growing up). There’s a lot to be said and learned in unstructured play and there’s a lot to learn in structured play. Both have their pros and cons. But to say that gone are the days of simple and fun games would be the same as saying that the children in third world countries are at a disadvantage when it comes to win and lose. I firmly believe that this is a North American ‘thing’…not all kids play the same way in every part of the world. And they all learn equally. The US is built on a successful sport industry. Kids leave from high school to go pro. This is not normal. But even though these are my thoughts, I’m not sure my kids will stop playing team sports anytime soon. It is what it is. Lol.

    And yes, I take everything you say in love. And don’t worry too much about me missing games…when the rubber meets the road I’ll be there, I don’t go to school with them to cheer them on during each class everyday…but I’m there for the special occasions. :).

  3. I have been thinking a lot about this post, T. I know how you feel and have had this same sort of conversation with Shay in the past, about team sports and competition. I totally get that you want to protect your kids. But here’s the thing, in my uneducated, motherly opinion. Competitiveness is good. It is a part of life. Your kids, even when they are losing in a team sport, are still learning. Learning that it’s okay to lose. Sure, winning is what we strive for but it’s not the end of the world if we don’t win. We pat each other on the back and say, good job, buddy, and move on. The days of kids simply running around playing tag and playing with marbles are gone (which had it’s own competitiveness with it as well). I think you should make a point to go to your kids’ games and do your best to keep your comments to yourself, or maybe bring a note book and scribble some things down instead of verbalizing them. How do your kids feel knowing that your family has a deal that you don’t go to the games, only the tourneys, because you can’t keep your comments to yourself? That is so awesome that coaches make a point to tell him what an amazing player he is. Those are the kind of coaches you always want your kids to have (as long as they providing constructive criticism to anyone who needs it as well). And I would hope they are saying the same thing to the other kids. These are little boys. What we tell our kids is, if you are trying your very best (and we can tell when you are) that is all we expect from you. You have to believe that despite the losing season, as disappointing is it is, he is still learning something and making friends. Such is life, Tricia. Said with lots of love. xoxo (P.S. When we go to Ryan’s hockey games, the second I see Shay itching to holler something out that may be sort of negative, I very quickly stifle him and tell him to can it.)

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