Don’t forget to be a kid!

by Brendan Kennedy

Don’t forget to be a kid! I have been involved in sports for the majority of my life first as an athlete, then as a coach, and now as a scout. I have seen the landscape of athletics change since I was a kid. When I was a young athlete you played your sport locally for your town and if you were good you made the all star team. You played a few games and then eventually you lost and enjoyed summer. You went on vacations with your family, went to parks, swam, etc. Now I see kids playing year round without a break. They play in local leagues, travel ball, go to camps, tournaments, you name it. I understand, especially as a scout, the need for some of this.

Coaches are tough to get in front of, but at what cost? No not money but health, mentally and physically. Kids can get burnt out due to playing too much. I see summer schedules where the kid doesn’t have one weekend

where they aren’t playing in a tournament or going to a prospect camp. This seems like what most people would call a job. We played because we loved the sport, but it wasn’t a job that I did every day. I would play baseball then turn around and play whiffle ball or basketball, maybe a great game of kickball. I was able to see my friends, go places with my family, or sometimes just relax. I see kids having to stop playing nowadays because of injuries or who have just lost the desire to play the sport they loved. So how can this be prevented? Let your kid be a kid. 

Don’t start too young in these travel leagues that want all of your time. If you must or want to play, look for teams or organizations that will allow you to play in a few tournaments over the summer. That only practice a few times a week. Why would you need to play travel ball every weekend at age 8? Tell me what coaches or scouts are there to watch your kid? I have read study after study and not one shows evidence that your sons or daughters are more likely to play in college due to playing travel ball at a young age. My daughter didn’t start playing lacrosse until her eighth grade summer. She made varsity her freshman year and was named all state by senior year. She went on to play in college and is currently a four year starter for her school. She played travel her freshman through junior year not before. She has had her injuries but still is able to play and I’m sure will continue to play as long as she can. The point is that you can still play at a high level starting later on. You only get to be a kid once. Remember what is what like back when most of us were growing up? Yes, I know that some kids just want to play as much as they can but please don’t forget to let them be a kid also!