Chris Lillstrung: High school sports community deserves mandated part of summer off

http://www.news-herald.com/sports/20170704/chris-lillstrung-high-school-sports-community-deserves-mandated-part-of-summer-off

I whole-heartedly agree – for me, the key reason is for families to have time to be families.  Now, this is mostly a school sport issue and not specifically a youth recreational sports one, but they’re related.

For too many young people and their families, a summer trip – historically an annual family affair – now may come at a price for the young athlete.  Often, the coaches will question a young athlete’s commitment to the team if they miss summer activities.  Think about that for a minute; a teen ager – and the parents who want their son or daughter to have every opportunity on the high school team – has to deliberately forego vacation time with family in order to stay out of the coach’s dog house.

A friend of mine had to weigh the potential impact of taking his son to a college football camp, which would have meant his son would miss a ‘voluntary’ workout with his high school team.  This wasn’t even a vacation (although surely the father and son would have had some real quality time together); it was missing a ‘voluntary football team workout’ to attend a college football camp.  Fearing that his son might lose his place on the depth chart, my friend didn’t take his son to the camp.

It’s not just summers, either.  For my boys, spring break was another test of their ‘commitment to the program’. As high school baseball players, they were expected to be in town for mandatory practices and even games!  A week during the school year intended for student (and family) R&R was now off limits. No trips scheduled in advance or other vacation arrangements made in case the boys made the team and needed to be available for baseball.

The idea of kids sacrificing to play sports is not bad.  They give up their free time and energy after school and sometimes the weekends during the school year.  Shouldn’t that be enough?  Particularly when the alternative is less time with family over summer break.

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