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Opinion: Kids’ sports: A family commitment

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When you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else. And, sometimes a “yes” is significant enough to spill over to permeate all areas of your life and overtake it. Such can be the case with kids’ sports. In many ways, when you sign up your child, you are signing up the whole family especially when it comes to club sports and travel teams.

I heard some words of wisdom about competitive sports and family balance from the father of a freshman tennis star at Carmel High School.

“The priority needs to be the family. If the commitment to the athlete is affecting the family, you have to pull back. We’ve had to take a break sometimes,” Chip Woods said. “Make family a priority.”

In order to find family balance with their daughter Zoe’s busy tennis schedule, the Woods’ family limits tournament play, is intentional with creating family time together, and makes family vacations a priority.

“Zoe had a chance to attend an Ivy League summer clinic but there was a conflict with our family vacation,” Woods said. “We picked the family vacation. Sports will come and go but family is enduring.”

Involving kids in sports at an early age continues to be the trend and there are many benefits – great physical activity, team work, etc. But, as they get older, a family commitment needs to be made, and it’s often a difficult decision. As CHS Athletic Director Jim Inskeep said, “Parents need to have their eyes open to what they are getting into at an early age.”

Personally, I have tried to preserve family time through the years. As a single parent, I couldn’t take on travel teams and games all weekend so I was thrilled when both of my children ran cross country at Brebeuf Jesuit. It was a wonderful experience with team dinners on Friday nights, meets on Saturday mornings, and time for family dinner together during the week after practice. I’m a huge fan of cross country where everyone’s a winner and is able to participate. And, by the way, it’s an open sport at the high schools so all students have a chance to be on the team!


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