Sports Insanity Over Academics Will Limit The Next Generation

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I just finished watching a Real Sports episode.  Bryant Gumbel’s HBO show put the spotlight on travel sports.  While I’m sure to anger and annoy some of you reading, I am doing so for your own good.

Over the last decade, two contrarian forces have created “yet another challenge” for this generation: (1) the restructuring of the economy that will make it far more difficult for this generation’s children to have good jobs and (2) the meteoric rise of youth sports in a way that has drained precious time, energy, and resources of this generation’s children at the same time when they need every bit of each to compete with the world wide labor force.

The Learning Consultants has a sprinkling of international clients, ex-pats who moved from Connecticut overseas or internationals who spend summers in Connecticut or who have moved to Connecticut full time. The universal question about Connecticut middle school and high school students from internationals who move here: “why do these students spend so much time on sport?” From those who moved from Connecticut to different countries: “our time has freed up so much since we are not endlessly in cars driving our kids to far away locations and then just watching games.”

As a parent of three, I get it.  I understand the pressure to ensure that one’s children are playing sports (I love sports and think that to a reasonable degree, sports are a great part of the learning experience) and doing well at their sport (self-esteem etc.)

But perhaps because I am not from Connecticut, I have an outsider’s vantage point about the reality of small town, non-diverse high school students playing college sports. When I was first building The Learning Consultants, Old Saybrook’s basketball team won the state championship for the S (small school) league.  They did so, in part, because their star was a ringer from New London who was attending Old Saybrook.  Some of the kids I met when I was teaching an SAT class told me that they intended on getting college basketball scholarships.  I had not yet realized that the delusions of grandeur that small town life sometimes create.   I thought they must be really talented, particularly because they were hovering around or under 6 feet.  Since I had volunteered in some youth programs in both Washington DC, and Philadelphia, I had seen several high school games in those cities.  Suffice to say, while I rooted vigorously for my new Old Saybrook home town team, I was not convinced that major college basketball was on the horizon of any of them.