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NFT: How kids' sports turned pro

lawguy9801 : 9/11/2017 3:21 pm
Timely article for me, as I am firmly in the travel sports cocoon with my two sons, in fifth and third grade. Both on the travel soccer circuit, and the younger one with lacrosse as well.

The best line in the article, relating to spending exorbitant amounts spent by some parents chasing a college athletic scholarship: "“They could have set it aside for the damn college.”

In my humble opinion, kids should play a travel sport only if they enjoy it, and parents shouldn't look at it as an investment expecting a monetary reward in the form of a college scholarship later on - the odds are overwhelming that you will be very disappointed. Play for the love of the game, getting better, and making and being with your friends.

And, it really stinks that the rise of travel sports has caused a decline in youth rec leagues.
Link - ( New Window )
This should lead to some interesting conversations  
Shecky : 9/11/2017 5:05 pm : link
Best summary I've heard of travel sports now. It's the same way parents pushed their kids into being child actors years ago.
Then singers
Now it's travel sports.

The kid Joey the article starts with is very well known in travel baseball. Purely because his parents have done a great job marketing him. Sad thing is, he can make a very good career already out of pushing product.
Both my kids played travel  
mdthedream : 9/11/2017 10:08 pm : link
one is at college now and the other is being looked at by div 2 and div 3 teams. The real truth is you can get the same scholarship with academics instead and you are better off seeing if you play D1 or D2 the schools owns them. Academic scholarship is for 4 years sorts is 1. Both my kids get great grades and my first son got a great academic scholarship. My daughter is tops in her class and getting looked at for Softball and to be honest academics comes first and that is what she told me. I couldn't agree more.
All of my kids played travel soccer  
Bill L : 9/12/2017 7:16 am : link
My personal experience is that it was actually a great experience. We never looked at it as a vehicle for future scholarships. We looked at it as a way to play at a more serious and higher level, thrill of competition, and all of that. Eventually, it just became something that was part of our routine. It was the only way to play year round (which is controversial in and of itself). It was a unifying way to get all of our family together, at least while they were young enough not to have conflicting schedules, when otherwise I would just stay at work and my wife would just stay at work on on weekends and nights.

As the kids aged, the costs ranged from significant to exorbitant, especially for one of them who played 6 days a week year round on 2 teams for leagues and 3 for tournaments plus ancillary things like ODP and Empires plus summer league and camps. The travel itself was very costly although I have to say that we got to go to see places for tournaments that we otherwise would not have had the opportunity to visit. So, it was vacation for us.

Overall, if you want quality and competition, I would say it was incomparable. You can't get that in rec soccer and, while HS is rah-rah and I recommend it for school spirit, it's really not high level soccer (even at high level schools (except for Shen where their HS team curiously always seems to be their travel team)).

OTOH, I would not recommend ODP (at least ENY), either as a vehicle for college, an investment, as skill-development or as an experience.

Anyway, two of my kids who played travel year round never had a desire (or skill) to play soccer in college, although at least one played a lot of intramural. One did play in college and that's attributable to the level and amount of soccer, especially travel played as a youth. However, scholarship itself never played into the calculus for travel. At a certain point, but not until many years into it (maybe sophomore or junior year after beginning playing travel at age 9), being able to *play* college at a higher level (having the skills, being seen) did factor in, especially to tournament choices.

But mostly it really was just what we did. An intense and time-consuming family hobby.
The TL; DR version...  
Bill L : 9/12/2017 7:21 am : link
don't do it for some sort of financial reward you're unlikely to receive. But, even if it's expensive and time-consuming, it's not that different than piano or dance or gymnastics where you throw way too much time and money into something for either enjoyment or to max your potential.
It's all a total racket  
family progtitioner : 9/12/2017 7:24 am : link
money grab
A lot of it is a racket/money grab  
Shecky : 9/12/2017 7:46 am : link
But to say all of it, really is a broad stroke. Travel sports used to be for the elite players. Who needed a step up in competetition. The best of the best. Something earned.

But now it has become so watered down. A trophy for the parents to say "yeah, my kid plays travel". That level is a total scam in. Y opinion. But in the upper levels it is absolutely necessary. It is an outstanding tool to develop your child. Not as a future pro. But when they excel at something, many life lessons are learned by pushing themselves and competing against the best of the best.
I have a friend who has two sons, both good baseball players  
Heisenberg : 9/12/2017 8:24 am : link
and he has said his goal is to have them get scholarships. They are 11 and 8 and he has them doing strength training and something called "explosion" training. Private pitching lessons. Private hitting lessons. Paying to be on a premier travel team in CT. Ok, whatever. I hope they do get scholarships but that seems like a lot to put on an 8 year old.

My son plays baseball basically year round (winters are for park and rec basketball), babe ruth fall ball now. He's not gonna get a scholarship. His absolute favorite part is goofing around in the dugout and he hopes to be able to make the High School team.

To each his own, I guess.
All of it is a money grab.  
WideRight : 9/12/2017 8:27 am : link
The number of "coaches" taking money from parents is astounding. Obviously the coaches don't know any better because its their most viable way of putting food on the table. Its the dual-income professionals that are paying bottom-feeders to blow smoke up their ass thats laughable.
Since its a business, anything goes, but I still feel sorry for the kids who childhood is affected.
Read an interesting article on youth sports  
gmenatlarge : 9/12/2017 8:33 am : link
a while back. The main point of the article was that kids don't play sports on their own anymore, everything is organized and run by adults. They don't get the opportunity to run the game themselves as I and others had as kids. We had to make our own rules and umpire ourselves. Think about it,if you disagreed with a much larger kid you had to persuade him to your point of view and resolve the conflict ON YOUR OWN. They never get this chance because the adults are always around and making those decisions.
Real Sports  
mitch300 : 9/12/2017 8:44 am : link
With Bryant Gumbel had a segment on this. It's big business. Towns are building these sports complexes to attract all kinds of kids/sports.
and the politics  
family progtitioner : 9/12/2017 8:59 am : link
and BS that goes into who makes what team and who plays I think is sickening. I only have an 8 year old daughter who's not into sports, but I see all of this from other families and having friends who coach as well
it might be more prevalant  
Enzo : 9/12/2017 9:10 am : link
now but this is nothing new. Going back 30 years or so my family and I, along with plenty of people we knew, were involved in year round travel soccer teams that involved multiple out of state tournaments, "professional" training, etc. Not to mention select teams, state cup, ODP, etc. And it wasn't just soccer. In the summer, I rarely saw one of my best friends because he was gone all the time playing baseball with the Bayside Yankees.
Curious people's thoughts on travel sports  
Shecky : 9/12/2017 9:53 am : link
Good or bad, but more importantly why?
Nothing wrong with the concept  
family progtitioner : 9/12/2017 10:05 am : link
but it's turned into basically a scam to capture more revenue. I played travel baseball and traveled for swim and I'm sure growing up a lot of us did, but today it's different. So many more families are now traveling to far away tournaments and spending loads of money. I see kids playing who really have no business being on travel teams. It's all organized and there's very little spontaneous play for kids anymore. It all only benefits the organizers and the parents who live vicariously through their kids.
The mentality can get crazy  
lawguy9801 : 9/12/2017 11:37 am : link
especially on Long Island, where I live. My third grade son is pretty good at lacrosse for his age, but I'm pretty certain he won't get a Division I scholarship. But with all the travel teams (including "elite" travel teams) around us -- and this is completely stupid -- I have this gnawing feeling that he's going to fall behind by "only" playing on the town travel team (which practices for 8-9 months of the year, mind you) and not on a higher level team.

It can drive you nuts if you let it. It's important to just keep perspective and remember that kids have to be kids, not robots. More than anything, they care about having fun and being with their friends; that can't be taken from them.
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