Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spending Too Much Time On Sport Too Soon?

In a recent news broadcast, 11 year old Sam spends 12 hours a week practicing gymnastics with the Ohio State University Kids Club. On top of the countless hours put into his practice, his family spends about $5000 on travel, uniforms, events, etc. just so Sam can participate in something he loves.

Click here to view the story 

After watching the story on Sam I began to think about my own career as a young athlete and the amount of time I spent on athletics. 

I first started athletics when I was in 6th grade which would put me around the 11-12 age group. I would have practice from about 4 or 5 until 6 or 7. Some nights I had practice from 7-9:30. Now average that out for the week and you'd a total of about 10-14 hours a week. Also we had games on Saturdays which took up about 5-6 hours of time. So is spending 12+ hours a week on athletics too much for an 11 year old? I would have to say no. I say no because I had fun playing football and socializing with my friends. Sam appears to be having as well, so can you really say that there is too much time spent doing something you love? I would say the only time when something becomes too much is when academics begin to suffer. If you can't balance school with athletics then you need to put more time into one thing and less into another. 

National Outdoor Track and Field Meet 2008 at University NC A&T

Also think about this, when students get older, sports become a critical aspect of their lives. I remember countless hours I would spend working on block starts and hand offs for our sprint relays. Some people thought we were just wasting time but for me I saw it as time to better myself. Think about great athletes for a moment. Aren't the best athletes the ones that put in the most time practicing and perfecting skills. They're the ones that "Eat, Sleep and Breathe" the sport right? I feel it's almost necessary to put in a solid amount of time towards your athletics because if you want to go somewhere in that sport you have to be the best. You get what you put into it. 

Sam might not appreciate it now, but his parents are making huge sacrifices for him by spending the money on travel, uniforms, etc. I always felt grateful for my family and how supportive they were. If I needed new spikes or new spandex, they'd run me to the store and buy whatever I needed. This occurred about every year from the time I was in 7th grade. I would say that my family spent anywhere from $800-$1500 on just track things alone. (I also did football and they also had my brother to worry about) My parents knew the importance of having the right equipment because they knew it would help me be the best. They knew I couldn't win if my spikes were all beat up and heavy. They wanted me to be the best and provided me with the newest and best equipment. I am so blessed to have a family like mine that would provide me with new equipment and take off work or get out of work early to come see me run or get up at 5:30AM in sub zero temps, to drive me to the school so I could get ready for away meets, which they would attend too! Some kids aren't as lucky and I feel bad for this kids. There were some kids on my team that parents would just not provide them with the money or show up to the meets. I would always get super nervous about my parents being at meets because I never wanted to screw up or fail in front of them but looking back on it now, I'm glad they were there to see me fail because they also had the chance to see me win and sometimes win big! Other kids could have run the best race of their lives and nobody was there to see it and cheer them on. 

How many hours did you spend on sports when you were 11 years old? Did your parents support you during your athletic career? Leave a comment below and explain what sports were like for you at a young age! 

1 comment:

  1. Great post Anthony! I started running when I was in 3rd grade and I did it because I loved it. As I got older, more and more time is necessary if you truely want to be the best you can be. My middle school years, I spent about 15 hours per week on sports then in high school and beyond, made the jump to about 40+ hours per week. Athletics was a full time job for me. My parents always told us that we could get a job or do sports; I chose sports. With the full support of my parents, I was able to travel all over the US and internationally several times. The only meet my parents missed was a trial race I had in Florida. I flew out with my coach early and my parents flight was cancelled due to an ice storm (March 2007). I am very lucky to have the emotional support as well as the financial support from my parents. From new running clothes every month, new workout shoes and racing shoes every three months, airfare and travel expenses, uniforms, etc, my parents provided it for not just me, but some of my teammates as well when they could not afford it. For me, my sport was my passion. For my parents, myself and my sisters are their passion.