Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
As I chatted with a friend the other day, we eyed up summer, reviewing the various athletic camps available to our kids. We noted a myriad of offerings for sports typically played during non-summer seasons. I wondered which of these opportunities her kids planned to take advantage of. Her answer surprised me.
They weren't enrolling in any.
No winter or fall sports camps in the summer? The entire summer? I asked her if she was sure about this newfangled decision.
"We're going to try to live in the season," she said matter-of-factly of her family's choice to go against the grain and play only summer sports during June, July and August.
I found her outlook refreshing and bold, but a teensy bit naïve and perhaps even dangerous. We've got indoor ice in July and indoor golf in January, for good reason. It's part of the game. It's part of winning.
As parents, we have a responsibility toward our children. Actually, we possess infinite responsibilities. One of these includes participation (and success) in the hobbies they choose. Many choose sports, and with that, the competition begins. Making the wrong summer sports camp choice might be akin to holding my child back. (Remember when that phrase referred to a grade in school, not a level in sports?) It's a simple fact: kids who don't play sports outside their respective seasons stand the chance of falling behind.
No parent wants their child left behind. You don't have to be a president to know that.
Besides, living outside the season is what we do. It's our culture. It's who we are.
I may not play sports, but I, for one, am always outside the season. I've been prepping for swimsuit weather since January. The stores fill their aisles (and I fill my cart) with red white and blue products starting in May. Come July I'll stock up on school supplies and in September, if all goes as planned, I'll finish my holiday preparations.
You've got to think outside the season, if you want to tilt the score in your favor. It's practically mandatory. At least I thought so.
Then my friend threw a hockey bat (or perhaps it was a golf racket) into my entire line of thinking with her flight-of-fancy live-in-the season theories. Talk about a salmon swimming upstream (and we all know how that scenario ends).
Imagine how inconvenient things would be if we lived in the season. We wouldn't be able to buy fireworks in April, or bunny-shaped chocolates in January. Life would be so here and now, not there and then. We'd play baseball during baseball season and basketball during basketball season, with no overlap or overscheduling. My vehicle would never be laden with tennis rackets and hockey equipment at the same time. I'm not sure I could handle that sort of ordinary orderliness.
There's no denying the benefits of sports. First, let's take teamwork. It is a proven, true-life benefit to understand how to function as a member of a team. The opportunity to be a team member produces numerous skills including the ability to take direction, cooperate, think beyond oneself, pass the puck or ball, give a high-five, shake hands at the end of the game and so on. Sports provide opportunities for athleticism and physical fitness. Being on a team fosters fun and friendships, and I'm not just talking about the parents on the sidelines.
Sports are great, even a slow-moving parent like me understands this basic premise. Still, there are only 24 hours in my day. How do I choose which to pick? Or when? Or even... if?
It's a complicated question for me, but an easy one for my friend.
"We plan to do more family activities this summer," she said. "You know, biking, camping, stuff like that."
She'd thrown me for another loop around the track. I wasn't sure how to respond to her statement. Biking and camping? As a family?
Where's the teamwork in that?
Follow Slices of Life on Facebook. Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" E-mail her at
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