I have to take the opposite approach. My son has played travel baseball since he was 9 (now 17). He LOVES it and yes, I sacrificed. His sister (who graduates tomorrow!) was consumed by band. I sacrificed. Maybe it is different because I am a single mom, but I never minded a minute of it.
My kids had plenty of "get out and play time", our family time was spent at ball parks and football fields, but the drives gave us such great time to connect and they loved all the travel-a hotel pool is the best! I have friend whose daughter swims-and she is at the pool as much as we were at baseball-and the practices are at 5 am!
BUT...what works for your family is the thing to do. Period.
Then several people commented on the "evils" of organized sports. Oh, I get it! Trust me!
- There are only so many books, magazines and newspapers to be read.
- There is NO comfortable bleacher chair.
- Fast food is sucky and expensive. It is a pain to pack a cooler every weekend to save money.
- The parents/coaches/umpires/referees/judges can be incredible jerks
- Mosquitoes, heat, cold, rain, sunburn, flat tires, blown engines, injuries, tears, frustration, heartbreak
- Hours in car are mind-numbing exercises in stress and boredom
- The list of crap left to do at home is looooong
- The expenses are crazy! Uniforms, fees, gas, food, hotels-not to mention the shopping I did in new towns with new stores!
- When the games are lopsided-either way-it is painful
- Kids do need time to just be kids and play just for the joy of playing
But in the end, it worked for us. My son focused on baseball, but he has played soccer, lacrosse, and basketball. My daughter played tennis and volleyball and lacrosse-liked all of them-but really focused on band. Her school band is competitive. They travel all over the state (and country) to compete and play. Just as much time, money and practice as sports, but with Journey/Michael Jackson/Queen/AC/DC tunes! (and if don't think there are the exact same issues as "sports" you are so mistaken!)
My kids are active in school and community clubs and volunteer in several community organizations as well as at school. They work part time jobs, maintain excellent grades and hang out with friends. Organized sports and activities are just part of what they are all about.
My kids have made friends they will remember forever. The experience of marching at the Governor's Inauguration Parade or playing at the Baseball Hall of Fame and hitting your first home-run at Cooperstown are memories I am glad my kids have. Yes, it is a stereotype, but they have learned teamwork, cooperation, winning with dignity and losing with grace. They have also learned patience, kindness, and that it is NOT OK to punch a coach in the face no matter how much you want to do just that!
I am better for the experiences as well. Chaperoning, marching, cheering, shivering, sweating,crying and laughing with these people will bond us forever. And as it all comes to an end, I am glad 18 is marching for the USF Herd of Thunder Band next year. She is not ready to let go of that camaraderie and hard work and frustration and joy just yet. Neither am I!