I am not sporty and jocks never did it for me and, yes, I danced and swam but not competitively. As a way to encourage more physical activity, my parents made me take my love of the water to an "extreme," by forcing me to join a swim team. I liked my teammates but I hated the competitive aspect and, I think, that's why I don't necessarily like sports. They weren't a big deal to me when I was in school or out of school or even now, as a mother, but that doesn't keep me from dealing with the struggles only parents who hate sports understand. Ugh. I thought the days of feigning excitement for competitive physical activity was over. Nope.
My competitive sports days ended as soon as I graduated high school. I didn’t swim competitively after I graduated and though I loved the camaraderie of that team, I never felt compelled to seek out another sport. In college, I went back to taking dance classes, and avoided sports bars like the plague. Now that I’m raising kids, sports have re-entered my life, mostly because it's my turn to want our son and daughter to get some physical activity. School doesn’t offer an adequate amount of recess (get it together, public education) and my kids sleep so much better (read: I sleep so much better) when they’ve been running around during the day. So, here we are. Sports. Ugh, I just hate sports.
Still, my hate for sports doesn't trump my want and need for my children to be healthy, and my personal disdain shouldn't shape what my children inevitably decide they do or do not like. That means the following struggles are here to stay, because I won't be changing my mind about sports anytime soon.
There Are Too Many Of Them
So baseball is in the spring; track is in the fall, but also the spring; soccer is all year, but only if it’s indoor; basketball you have to try out for, and lacrosse is...wait. What’s lacrosse again?
Mastering The Lexicon Seems Impossible
Quarters, periods, innings, halves, fouls, penalties, green cards, red cards. I try to explain how games are played, but when I can’t remember to use the word “uniform” instead of “costume,” what hope is there for me to be able to teach my kids anything about team sports?
We Are Not Fans
Since we live in New York City, my kids are always asking me if I’m a Mets fan or a Yankees fan. “Neither,” I tell them. “I don’t like watching baseball.” I feel like an outsider, not rooting for “my” team. When I was on the swim team as a kid, it made sense, but it’s weird to me to cheer on “my” team from the sidelines, as a non-participant who has never (or will ever) be a member of said team. Like, they're not cutting me any residual checks.
Your Kid Wants To Play Catch And You Literally Can’t
Since we’re city folk, we’re forced to do this very difficult thing at our public playground, so I can't hide my embarrassing non-athleticism in the privacy of a backyard.
They Often Contradict Our Feminist Agenda
Of course girls can play any sport boys can. However, in the professional sports world, there are far fewer female athletes and most of them are paid a whole lot less than the guys. How do I advocate for sports when I don’t see as many opportunities for my daughter as I do for my son?
We Are Expected To Take Them Seriously, And We Can’t
I’m fine with my kids playing sports, but the operative word is playing. Team sports should be fun. You’re playing a game. The process of vetting children’s sports programs to rule out the ones I feel emphasize competition over skill-building and team cooperation, can be exhausting. Any day now, they'll turn tag into a professional competitive sport and I will try to get my kids excited about something else.
You Buy (And Essentially Waste Money On) The Wrong Kind Of Gear
It’s always fun to see what new thing your kid will give you grief over. Like how you bought the wrong socks, which apparently have to have a colored seam at the toe so they’ll fit in with the rest of the team at practice. Oh.
You Use An Uncool Shopping Tote To Transport Their Equipment
Much to my children’s embarrassment, I have not purchased any kind of athletic bag to hold their absolutely disgusting uniforms.
You’re Peer Pressured To Sign Up
I feel bad we haven’t joined our local Little League team yet, because it would be a nice way for my kids (who go to school outside our neighborhood) to spend time with their local friends. However, that would mean practice on Wednesdays (when I’m at work), games on Saturdays (which cuts into our family time), and more laundry on Sundays (which I didn’t even think was possible).
Constant Sticker Shock
It’s no mystery why I’ve been pushing my kids towards swimming as their sport. You don’t outgrow goggles!
Making Parent Friends Is Tough
I am not a soccer mom. I don’t bring snacks to team practice. Since I can’t bond with other "sport parents" at weekly events, I have to find other arenas (ha!) to forge grown-up friendships.
You Are The Reason Your Brownie Won’t Earn Her Baseball Badge
No, I am not going to the special game where my daughter’s troop can run around the bases and then sit in nosebleed seats for three hours, whining for ice cream served in plastic baseball hats so she can earn her patch, which I will then have to sew on to her sash. Sorry, but no.