What if I don’t sign my kids up for sports?

I was walking with a neighbor who has children of similar ages. We were talking about sports. Mainly how she has signed her kids up for them and they hate it but they do them anyway.

And I said when I do sign my kids up for a sport, it is going to be a sport I like to watch.

And she laughed and said, “I never thought of it that way.”


Ha HA.

Nat and I are not sports people. This means we do not play sports. We do not watch sports. We do not care about sports.

When I first started dating Nat in Philly, a friend once looked at us and said, rather incredulously, “You know, it’s kind of weird that you guys don’t care about sports.”

I wanted to say, “I think it’s kind of weird people like to sit around on a Sunday, cheering while a bunch of men give themselves brain damage.”

But I didn’t. (But because I didn’t say it, doesn’t mean I don’t think it.)

I played sports in high school — field hockey, some tennis, some cheerleading — but when I did sports, you would play for the season and that would be it. There weren’t even try outs. I wasn’t a spectacular athlete but I was fine. I enjoyed getting outside and running around with friends. I liked wearing my jersey in school on game days. I don’t think I ever started, unless the team we were playing with was REALLY bad. And I was okay with that.

I started my stellar high school sports career in, I think, 7th grade?

It wasn’t intense. It was simply school sports.

But now, sports have gotten really extreme. It’s a year-round, expensive commitment. My nephew does soccer and my brother and SIL drive all around all year long to meets (games? matches? I don’t even know what they are called!). And the process starts YOUNG.

Friends, it’s not really how I want to spend my time.

Don’t get me wrong — if Sam showed one inkling of interest in sports, I would sign him up. But he doesn’t. And then people say, “Well, you have to push him.” And I say, “But he’s really happy with LEGOs and hanging around at home on the weekend. He’s SIX.” And they say, “If you don’t sign him up soon, you will lose your window and he’ll never catch up.”

Once, a really good friend said to me, “Do you want Sam to be picked last when kids are choosing teams?”

And that’s when I started breathing into a paper bag. 

Because what if I’m ruining my beautiful child forever.

What if he is always picked last because I didn’t sign him up for soccer at age 5?

But then I remembered that our nice, inclusive schools probably don’t even make kids pick teams anymore because that’s MEAN. (Even though I agree with the process! Kids need to get TAUGHT about capitalism at a young age, yo!)

What is the end game with forcing your kid to do sports? If you like it, fine. Sport it up. If your kid likes it, get in that Suburban, pack up the snacks, and hit the road, my friends! If you think it’s good for them to learn sportsmanship or for exercise, great. No shame! Many kids need that kind of structure and exercise. I GET IT.

But what if your kid is like my kid? Who likes hanging around at home, playing LEGOs? Who is kind, calm and good-natured and doesn’t watch a lot of TV and who likes drawing and LEGOs (I know I’ve already said that but he REALLY likes LEGOs). Who has never once said, “Please sign me up for T-ball? PLEASE?”

I will pause here and say that if Nat ever said, “I’m signing Sam up for pee-wee soccer and I’ll take him every week and sort through everything that goes with that,” I’d say, “SOUNDS GREAT! SOCCER FAMILY WE WILL BE! WHHHEEE!!”

But Nat has never said that. And I do not want to spend the time and money figuring out how to stick my kid on a field he does not, at the current moment, want to be on.

So, I will stick to my feelings of “signing up my kid for a sport I like to watch.” I’ve thought about it, and I think cross-country (in a few years) is perfect. You go to a meet (game? match? run? thing-a-ma-gig?), set up a chair, wave as your kid runs off, read a book and then an hour later, cheer when he comes across the finish line.

Unless he stops to play LEGOs on the course on the way. Which could definitely happen.

We are training him young.



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