Signing Your Child Up For Sports – A Helpful Guide

Signing Your Child Up For Sports – A Helpful Guide

The number of youth involved in organized sports in the United States is estimated to be over 50 million (United States Census Bureau, 2000).  If you are a parent living in the United States, this means the odds of you considering to sign up a son or daughter for a sport are great.  When thinking about this course of action, though, there are several things to keep in mind ahead of time.

1.  Does your child want to participate in the sport? This is the first question you need to ask yourself when considering signing your child up for a sport.  It may seem like common sense, but some parents attempt to live vicariously through their children by forcing them to play sports. 

If a child is placed into a sport he or she does not want to play, it will become a headache for you to get them to practices, they can be disruptive to the team as a whole, and you might end wasting a lot of your time and money. 

To prevent this from happening, simply ask your child ahead of time.  Be sure to ask as neutrally as possible, because children are incredibly perceptive and will answer “yes,” if that is the answer they think you want to hear.  Make sure they understand that it is up to them.  And, most importantly, be clear and know that your child understands the whole situation.

2.  Is your child willing to take on the commitment?  Participating in a sport requires ample time and effort on behalf of the child.  Practices often take up time during the week and many sporting events take place on the weekend.  This is without factoring the time already consumed by school and any prior commitments (i.e. band, theater, etc.).

When asking your child if he or she wants to participate in the sport, make it clear how much of a commitment is at stake.  Explain how frequently practices will occur and establish expectations for staying on top of schoolwork.  Also, make sure your child knows if the sporting events do take place on the weekends, because that is a major time commitment for their “off” days.

3.  Are you willing to take on the commitment?  Driving, fund raising, and watching events are all part of being a sport parent.  The school or recreational center where your child practices will probably host events (tournaments, games, meets, etc.), but the events might occur at other venues, as well.  Are you prepared to drive to a different school?  Additionally, the “home” events will probably require volunteers and you may be expected to help.

Fund raising is often needed for sports teams of all types.  Your child might be asked to sell candy bars or work at a carwash to raise money for the team.  As a parent, you will probably be expected to help out in some capacity.  Perhaps you will need to drive your child to relatives’ homes and help sell candy or supply buckets and rags for the big carwash.

Depending on the sport, watching a meet or tournament could take up an entire weekend.  If you’ve had a long week at work, that is an incredible time commitment.  Is it worth it for you, though, to see your child perform at a sport they have worked so hard at all week long?  The time commitment on your behalf is definitely something you will need to keep in mind.

4.  Sports can be expensive. This factor does depend, at least to a fair extent, on the sport in which your child/children will be playing.  The equipment needed to join a swim team, for example, is considerably less than what is needed for hockey.  Additionally, some athletic programs may supply equipment, thereby reducing some of the cost. 

Even if a program does have some of the equipment, though, the odds are still high that you will have to supply something or other.  Equipment, admission to events, and gifts for coaches are all expenses which add up. 

Ultimately you need to ask yourself if the potential rewards of healthy social interaction, sense of accomplishment and improved physical well-being are worth the time and effort required of both you and your future athlete.  If he or she is legitimately interested in participating, you will find willingness in your child to sacrifice free time and put forth the effort a sport will require.

By communicating with your child on the front end, you can be assured that this endeavor will be worth it for all parties involved!