Ballin' Too Young: Why Parents Need to Let Their Kids Live

Taylor RummelSenior Analyst IJuly 24, 2009

If you were to poll 100 people at random about whether or not they had played at least one sport in their childhood—more than likely you would be met with an overwhelming “Yes.”

However, take it one question further—of course with their permission—and ask them why it was that they decided to play sports: Several individuals are certain to respond:

“Because my parents made me.”

It’s an unethical practice that too many families use with their children: Choosing for them, often times before they are able to make a decision themselves.

“Little Jimmy is gonna be a big pro basketball star!”

Oh, is he?

Are memories of failing to make the High School Varsity team haunting you, forcing these lofty expectations upon your child so as to see your glory through? Did Jimmy even tell you that he wants to be a “baller?”

Wait...he can’t talk yet.

Worse yet, the topic is consistently swept under the rug, seemingly “never” ready to be pulled out for a healthy discussion. No doubt, a large part of the problem is societal.

ESPN (among other social-sporting phenomena) bombards both our youth and older counterparts with all the amenities that pro-athletes receive, and glorifies them to an almost disgusting degree. In truth, who doesn’t want to grow up a multi-millionaire, or a person talked about around the globe?

But it’s lustful desires like those that poison our minds and rub-off on our youth.  It seems that girls aren’t the only ones with heavy peer, parental, and public pressure to adhere to "social standards."

Our poor boys have to “be like Mike” or “bend it like Beckham.”

I believe the most ridiculous aspect of the whole notion, however, is the compromising of rights that takes place. I find that while this practice and the act of abortion are immensely different in terms of moral acceptance, they are strikingly similar in concept.

In each case, freedoms of the child are replaced by the supposed “better judgment” or “personal preferences” of the parents, child’s views (and welfare) be damned!

Personally, I don’t believe that either act is morally correct (even though we’re here for the sport’s talk). What will also be potentially hurtful to the child’s overall well-being is the mindset that he will have grown up, unfamiliar with normal kid life.

Part of what I treasured at such a tender age was exploring life. Playing “juggle” with my neighbor, squirting friends in the face with squirt guns at birthday parties, and being particularly rebellious and savage on the school playground were all necessary components, dedicated in helping to define my individuality—and my personality growing up.

Being locked into one activity in adolescence and shunting all other aspects of life is not healthy for the child—nor is it fun. After being essentially handcuffed with tunnel-vision, (regarding a sport) from the parent(s); no manners will be learned, no personality will be picked up, and no exploration will be attained.

Instead, winning, attaining fame, and hogging glory will be cemented into the child’s mind, and become his central focus and overall goal, not enabling him to grasp some of the finer aspects of life such as graciousness, good-times, and religion, (at least the existence of it).

Isn’t the kid supposed to choose his own path, write his own story, and tell his own tale?

How can he if you’re making all the decisions for him?