It’s All Fun and Games Until…

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As the mother of an almost-3-year-old, I sit in the surprisingly powerful position of considering what sports and activities I’d like my daughter to try, knowing they will heavily shape her life moving forward.

There’s swimming, of course. Not necessarily a sport at this point, but a safety imperative considering how much time our family spends at lakes during summers. And skiing is practically required.

In a couple of years we’ll likely dip a toe into soccer, a popular route it seems, for many families with children.

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There’s also appeals of basketball (my husband loves the Warriors, and my daughter is already growing into her love — she’s perfected Steph Curry’s ‘night-night’ celebration), baseball (go Giants!), or even hockey (we’re all big fans, but consideration of injury and cost is important). Clearly, our family is drinking from many cups of Kool-Aid.

And then there’s my history of dancing ballet. Fifteen years of my past apparently was inherited by my daughter, who currently can’t function unless she’s wearing a tutu.

While ballet wasn’t necessarily a competitive atmosphere for me, I did have my doses of competition through my high school’s dance team (state champs, baby!). The commitment ruled my life in high school — team practice after school, plus classes most evenings. Through the sport, I learned what it meant to be dedicated, responsible, a leader, a teammate, and more. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.

For this edition, I spoke with many adults who are the parent of climbers. More than one spoke of the deep love their children have for the sport. One mom told me of her child’s participation, “They were hanging out outside of climbing team. It was just this unity that comes in the climbing community … It is friendship, it is family, it is comradery.”

What a beautiful perspective to apply to team sports, and I can only imagine the joy that comes from witnessing that as a parent.

That said, there can also be a dark side to the world of sports and competition.

I had very poor body image and an unhealthy relationship with food during my high school years. While much of that, for me, was part of being a teenage female, being surrounded by lithe ballerinas and dancers in my sports sphere added quite a bit to it.

But what about external negative energy? What about a coach or leader who yells at you to work harder and do better? That can be effective — up to a point. Where is the line? How far do you push your child to reach the benefits of sport, competition, and/or teamwork?

It’s a question top of mind for me in light of this month’s news feature, Acclimating to High Altitude. Some parents I spoke with have pulled their children from climbing classes and the competition team at High Altitude Fitness out of a mix of frustration with rising expenses, but also negative interactions with the owners. Another parent spoke highly of his son’s experience and the international and collegiate opportunities involvement at HAF yielded. A plethora of takeaways, indeed.

When do the cons outweigh the positives of what participation in sports can mean? Maybe it’s an unsupportive environment, maybe it’s too expensive, or maybe competitive sports wages too many internal wars, like body dysmorphia.

From where I sit, at the start of my daughter’s participation in sports, the best approaches I can see are watching and learning from those around me who currently have children in such extracurriculars, and — as the parents at High Altitude do — trusting my gut.

Author

  • Alex Hoeft

    Alex Hoeft joined Moonshine staff in May 2019, happy to return to the world of journalism after a few years in community outreach. She has both her bachelor's and Master's in journalism, from Brigham Young University and University of Nevada, Reno, respectively. When she's not journalism-ing, she's wrangling her toddler or reading a book — or doing both at the same time.

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