Let the Kids Play

Recess time at the small, parochial elementary school I attended was one of the best events of the day. Sometimes we’d play organized games, and sometimes we were free to do whatever suited our fancy. When it came to sports, everybody played everything.  Sure, somebody was picked last. But everybody played.  Nobody was too bad to play. We learned to work together as a team, whoever the team happened to consist of for the day.

In the small parochial high school I attended, the story was a bit different.  The teams for after-school sports were chosen and stayed the same throughout the year. But, everybody who wanted to play was allowed to play whatever it was they were interested in.  It was a great time to socialize, learn and improve new skills, and get some exercise.  We didn’t have any matching uniforms, no coaches told us how to do it and the practice times – if there actually were any – didn’t interfere with study time or bed time. There were never any out-of-town games parents had to figure out how to attend. There were no concession stands or shirt sales.  Sure, somebody won and somebody lost. But we all had fun.

Next year my daughter will enter that same small parochial high school. She’s already attending volleyball practice in hopes she’ll be good enough to be allowed to actually be on the team and play during games instead of leading a cheer or warming the bench.


Photo credit: Ryan Lindbeck Images

It’s all about winning.

What happened to having fun socializing and learning new things while getting some exercise?

Let the kids play!

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  1. Excellent point!! I agree. Whatever happened to just playing for fun? I guess it’s still done, if kids have the time–and aren’t texting or on the Internet (like a lot of us–me). (‘cept I’m not a kid…so what’s my excuse?) 😉

    • Trouble is, it’s hard for those who would like to play for fun to find the place and situation to do it anymore.

  2. Good question! Over the course of working at a boarding school for eleven years, I noticed the same thing-fewer and fewer kids showed up for intermurals as the years passed by (although the same number of kids stayed involved in team sports). The athletic director finally came up with a formula for getting more kids active -short (3 week) tournament type events in things like kickball, badminton, basketball 3 on 3 and Ultimate. A higher number of kids were willing to commit to short-term action that didn’t look anything like the official team sports.

  3. The difference seems to be team sports vs organized team sports. Sometimes we just let it get too organized. And you’re right, the fun gets lost in all the hoopla. (It all boils down to patterning ourselves after the world too. There, I’ve said it.)

    • Good points. Glad you had a chance to “say it”. On the other side of things it seems the organized team sports add to school pride and belonging. It also gives some kids an incentive to keep their grades up so they can stay on the team. It gives them something rigorous to focus on during a hard time in their lives. But… it needs balance like anything else in life. Too much practice and play time reduces the study time, sleep time, and family time that is available. And- really I’d like my kids to be able to have something active they enjoy doing that they can turn to later in life to stay fit. My son is not a big sports guy. And I can assure you he won’t even THINK about playing if it involves a huge commitment of time or the possibility of having to perform in front of a crowd or the watchful eye of a coach. But if it was less formal and less intense, I bet I could get him to try a few things.

  4. I loved intramurals back then! Wish it was there for my kids. Now you need to devote your life to a sport it seems… :-/

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