Each Saturday, I get to experience one of my favorite things: I get to watch my three oldest sons play soccer. I often equate it to watching Bruno Mars sing and dance, because seeing my boys as they maneuver around players with a ball at their feet is an art — an art that is as innate as it is learned. It is just beautiful.
However, as much as it makes my heart happy to see them do what they love, part of me feels sad because as far as team sports go, soccer is all they know.
I often think back on my days as an athlete. I would participate in soccer and cross-country in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track in the spring. I loved each sport and what I gained physically and mentally from all of them. I loved ending my cross-country season just in the nick of time before deciding I would never run long distances again, then placing a basketball in my hands to add mental and physical relief to my burned-out body.
And just as basketball season ended, the same feelings of relief for a change of scenery both by way of my teammates, coaches and activity was welcomed wholeheartedly as I began my season of sprinting on the track.
Yet as I watch my boys compete, I fear that they will never feel the joys and relief that playing in multiple sports brings. Why? Because of competition leagues.
Like most parents, we started each of our children in recreational soccer. However, it was very apparent early on that it wasn't going to cut it. After entire seasons of watching my children run up and down the field, bypassing player after player for seemingly countless goals, the level of play was no longer a challenge for my children. We soon found that all the "good" soccer players were in competition leagues, and if we wanted our kids to compete and learn the sport, then this is where we would need to go.
But with competition leagues comes a hefty commitment both monetarily and by way of time. We were now subject to club, facility, coaching, uniform and traveling fees. Our money goes to a booming business that now has the monopoly on our athletes, and we are at the mercy of the system if we want our children to compete.
The most heartbreaking thing for me, however, is that a sport that normally takes place during spring or fall now encompasses all seasons including summer, leaving little or no time for my children to explore other athletic interests.
So, I sit here in a conundrum I don't know the answer to, but am left with one question: Is the three-sport athlete a thing of the past? Only time will tell, but I fear for the future of my athletes — and my mom heart.