Is It Wrong to Steer Your Kid Away From a Sport You Don’t Like?

Photo: Greg Westgall/Flickr
Photo: Greg Westgall/Flickr

My 6-year-old son is obsessed with pretty much any activity involving contact and a ball. Or really any sport at all. He wants to try everything and he loves everything he tries. I want to encourage him and allow him to explore and have fun and dabble, but if he eventually chooses to settle on a sport, I want it to be a sport I can get behind. And by “get behind” I mean doesn’t require an insane time commitment, isn’t painfully boring to watch, and one with teammates whose parents who aren’t you-know-what holes.

His current heroes are Lionel Messi (despite the heartbreaker), Peyton Manning (I’m a former Lady Vol who was at UT during the Peyton era, so he didn’t really have a choice), Lebron James, Johnny Manziel (ugh), Miguel Cabrera, Michael Phelps (who he occasionally calls Phillip Phillips), David Wright (You Gotta Believe!), Bubba Watson, and, recently, Tim Howard. During the Olympics, he wanted to become a slopestyle skier. He also thinks professional surfing is in his future despite the fact that he’s never actually surfed. In other words, he’s kind of a blank slate. And so I kind of want to encourage him to play the sports I like. And discourage him from playing the sports I don’t really like. Wrong, right?

OK, I’ll just come right out and say it: I find baseball to be the most boring sport on the planet to watch. (Youth baseball, I mean. I'm a fan of the professional game but that probably has something to do with the beer they sell at the stadiums.) My 11-year-old nephew has been on a travel baseball team for years and I’ve been to my share of games, so I speak from experience. They have double headers every weekend, weeknight games, practices on Friday nights, batting practices, tournaments and, oh yeah, the games are ... endless. And you just sit there. And sweat.

Don’t get me wrong, I think baseball is a great sport for kids. I love baseball players. I love watching baseball on TV. I love going to baseball games. Even Mets games when they lose. But I’m just not sure I’m mom enough to make the sacrifice it would require for me to spend hours upon hours sitting in a little folding chair down the third-base line at the Little League field. I would never flat-out tell him he couldn’t play a sport he really wanted to play (except for ice hockey — I couldn’t get up that early for ice time) but I can definitely nudge him away from that direction. Fortunately, he’s not asking to play baseball right now. He was on a T-ball team last spring and while he was pumped for every game and got really into it during the season, after it was over he confessed that he wasn’t that keen on it. He loves playing baseball in the backyard and hitting balls with his cousins and uncle Izzy, but batting off a tee wasn’t his thing and so he didn’t ask to sign up again. And I didn’t offer it.

So far the sports he seems to love and excel at most are basketball (games are so quick!) and soccer, which makes me happy because I think it’s a great sport that attracts a range of kids. I played too. I love playing with him and watching him play. Even at his age, it’s fun and exciting and I get into it. And the games are not endless, despite what you may have experienced while watching The World Cup. He also wants to play lacrosse this spring, which concerns me in a different way than baseball that I won’t get into here, but still I think it will have the fast-paced, action-packed fun baseball lacks for me. And so I’ll let him try it.

I know this whole kids sports dilemma is a completely first-world problem but it is something I’ve been thinking about lately. It’s one of the many reasons I’m not ready for my kids to grow up. Because I’m not ready to give up my weekends for youth sports. But once I do have to spend considerable amounts of time on sidelines or bleachers or working concession stands, I’d prefer to be doing it for a game that excites me. In a few years, he might decide he’s done with sports and choose theater or music instead. I would be fine with that. In the meantime, I’m hiding all the baseball gloves.

Anyone else feel this way? What sport do you not want your kid playing? Why?