Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Posts Tagged ‘toddler

Your kid's cellphone: a youth sports parent's best friend

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You might have seen over the weekend that the New York Times put up a blurb about the growth of cell phone use by six-to-11-year-olds, a group that back in my day (insert old man voice) would still have been playing with pretend land lines. However, I see nothing disturbing at all in kids having cell phones, not with my 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter having had them for about two years. I’m also guessing a lot of parents who are shuttling kids to multiple events, sports or otherwise, feel the same way.

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“Oh-hoh! I’ll send Goofy to pick you up at the field, Billy!”

The Times, quoting a study released Jan. 4 by Mediamarket Research and Intelligence, said that in 2005 11.9 percent of six- to 11-year-olds had their own mobile phone. In 2009, that number was up to 20 percent. The most dramatic increase, according to the market research company, was 10- and 11-year-olds, whose phone ownership was up 80.5 percent.

These numbers might be disturbing if you believe cell phones cause brain tumors, or if you imagine your 6-year-old now having the power to send naked pictures of himself all over the virtual world. And, yeah, when I put it that way, even I’m starting to freak out a little bit. Let me check my kid’s phones, and I’ll be right back. …

(OK, nothing untoward there. Whew.)

Or maybe you think merely that a post-toddler or preteen is too young to have a phone.

The New York Times item on this survey, being a blurb, left out a key part of the 5,000-child survey: why they use their phone.

The overwhelmingly No. 1 reason why kids use their phones is to call their parents. Now, as a child — and I was a good kid (really, I was) — my worst nightmare was that my parents could have some sort of tracking device on me that would always reveal to them where I was at any given moment. But my experience with my own children is that both sides like the security of being able to get in touch, anytime. Certainly, a cell phone would have been helpful so I could go from one park to another without having to make a detour home first so I could ask my parents if I could go.

The survey said 88.1% of the kiddie cellphone wielders use the device to call their parents. This is where the phone as youth sports parent’s best friend comes in. There comes a time, when the number of kids you have and the schedules they keep outflank you ability to be everywhere at once, that the phone is a necessity for making sure that your child isn’t left stranded after practice or a game — or that you can talk to your child and the parents of whomever has offered to bring him or her home, preferably via a postgame ice-cream shop stop.

My 12-year-old’s phone certainly comes in handy for his frequent, hours-long in-line skating jaunts, so I can call him home, or he can call me in case there is a problem. I feel safer with him having the phone, though my concern for his safety does not extend to making him wear a helmet and pads.

Over the summer, when we were visiting my family in Carmel, Ind., my son bladed over to the nearby Monon Trail (a conversion from a rail line upon which a parent threatened to send up Hickory basketball coach Norman Dale after hidestrapping his ass to a pine rail), which runs south to downtown Indianapolis. I was running the trail myself, so I saw him as we entered at about 146th Street, and I saw him again as I ran south from the trail’s end at 161st Street in Westfield, with him heading north. His phone in hand, I let him keep going after I was done running.

About 90 minutes later, not having heard from my son, I figured I’d better call him to see if he was OK. “Yeah, I’m fine, Dad,” he said. “Where are you?” “I’m not exactly sure.” “What was the last street sign you saw?” “I think it was… 96th Street.” (96th Street is the border between Carmel and Indianapolis.) “96th Street? Where the heck are you going?” “I wanted to go all the way downtown and back.” “Uh, no.”

Hey, my 12-year-old son may be old enough to have a cell phone, but I wasn’t going to let him traverse by himself to downtown Indianapolis and back. I might let him skate with no pads and no helmet — and an iPod going full-blast — but I have my limits. (I did let him skate back, though.)

By the way, second in the survey was calling friends (68.1 percent) and emergency purposes (55.7 percent). Mediamarket says much of the rise in cell phone use has to do with more kid-friendly phone offerings.

Left totally unsupervised, with no cell phone pads and cell phone helmet, can mobile technology welcome your 6- to 11-year-old to a world of sexting, cyberbullying, tumor-iffic, airtime-charge-sucking ne’er-do-wells? Perhaps. When we got our kids phones, my wife and I gave long lectures about what they were to be used for — and not. We haven’t gotten our 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter their own phones yet, but they’re not moving about independently enough to need them.

Anyway, I think the results of the Mediamark survey show that children — and parents — want that electronic tether to make sure they’re never out of reach; what was once my nightmare, now a child’s and parent’s dream.

Written by rkcookjr

March 9, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Youth sports as cultural linchpin: Why a Hoosier sent her toddler to basketball camp

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Organized sports starts so young these days, it’s amazing your child doesn’t emerge from the womb and fall straight into a pair of baseball spikes. Often, the assumption is that parents are starting their kids in sports so young because they believe the earlier they start their children, the better chance they have at going pro. Or, the better chance the parents have to network for the right playdates to get their kids headed toward Harvard.

Well, it’s not always the case that signing up your 3-year-old for organized sports is inherently a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s a way to impart culture, a way to show your child the important identifying markers of his or her ethnic group, even if his or her ethnic group, technically, in terms of categories listed on the U.S. Census form, does not exist.

For Amy Wimmer Schwarb, signing up her 3-year-old daughter Edie for basketball camp is as important a part of learning her Hoosier roots as heaping helpings of giant fried pork tenderloin sandwiches, the Indianapolis 500 and bitching about Daylight Saving Time. Schwarb wrote a great story for Indianapolis Monthly putting Edie’s fledgling basketball career in context the family’s decision to move back to her home state to Indiana from Florida so their girl could be raised in a good Hoosier way.

I, an Indiana native, am raising my kids only 15 miles from the Indiana state line. But that’s distant enough to make plain to me that no matter how much you try to impart the importance of basketball to your children, it’s just not the same as doing it in Indiana.

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Rev. Peyton and His Big Damn Band want to take us all back to Indiana for some fried biscuits with apple butter. Oh, how I miss it.

From the article:

In this town, at age 3, your opportunities are boundless. A 3-year-old can take the floor at Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy, the northside gym that produced 2008 Olympic medalist Bridget Sloan. Likewise, at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI [note: your humble blogger’s alma mater], 3-year-olds can take swim lessons, kicking and floating in water where Michael Phelps has set world records. At age 3, a child can seek instruction at the Pepsi Coliseum and learn to skate on the home rink of the league-champion Indiana Ice.

And then there is the Indiana Basketball Academy, where, beginning at age 3, children can sign up to learn dribbling, passing, and shooting—or, at least, what those words mean, and that you need to stay within the lines while doing them. The academy is owned by Tom Abernethy, a starting forward on the IU team of 1975–76— a stellar squad that, with Bob Knight at the helm, finished the season undefeated and won the national championship. At the academy, Abernethy himself—with assistance from other coaches on the staff—introduces the children to drills, tweaks their shooting form, and doles out candy at the end of practice.

Edie Schwarb’s parents do not, for the record, think she is a basketball prodigy. Her mother is five-foot-four; her father, five-foot-nine. She wears Stride Rites purchased on clearance at T.J. Maxx, and her “people” are not seeking any sort of shoe-endorsement deal. My daughter’s hoop dreams will, most likely, be short-lived. But she, like all other kids whose parents make them sign up for tee-ball or wear goofy outfits at dance recitals, is still malleable to the hopes and aspirations her parents have for her.

And this, truth be told, is what I have always wanted for my child: I want her to be a Hoosier.

Sure, everyone knows that Indiana loves basketball, like Texas loves football. But it’s hard to understand how much it’s really ingrained in the culture unless you’ve lived in the state, which I did from ages 12 to 24, a seminal time that has me calling myself a Hoosier no matter where I reside. Even as Peyton Manning — gasp, a football player, who’d have thunk it? — stands as Indiana’s athletic standard-bearer, and even as interest in going to high school basketball games isn’t what it was in the days depicted in the movie Hoosiers, basketball has a cultural grip on the state. It isn’t just something people do. It’s what they feel. That counts, too, for people who don’t like basketball — it’s so pervasive, you have to have feelings about it.

And it’s been that way since 1893, when Presbyterian Rev. Nicholas McKay returned to the Crawfordsville, Ind., YMCA from a trip to its facility in Springfield, Mass., with James Naismith’s just-invented game of basketball in tow, providing the perfect game for Hoosier small towns during the winter harvest break, and making Indiana the only state where basketball grew from the farm fields instead of the city streets, a rural connection that’s kept the game grounded even if its players increasingly are not.

From Amy Wimmer Schwarb:

Not far from where I grew up, near a northeast Indiana town called Mount Etna, is a basketball goal mounted on a backboard affixed to two old beams that rise out of a field. There’s no concrete pad beneath it, just a flat spot in the dust where a ball can find a good bounce.

I had never noticed it, despite its proximity to my hometown, until a photographer friend visiting from Florida snapped its picture as a sort of life-in-Indiana vignette. The hoop seems to grow organically from the Indiana soil; in fact, when corn is at full height, it disappears from sight. It is a reminder that—no matter how detrimental the advent of class basketball or how empty the gymnasiums on Friday nights or how distant the Milan Miracle—around here, still, basketball just is.

2598006053_bd201c0842In Indiana, it’s not a barn without a hoop on it or near it. Photo taken near LaPorte, Ind., by Don Kalkman (posted to Flickr).

So is young Edie Schwarb on her way to Hoosierdom? Given the copious amount of Indiana University and Colts gear in her collection, and her newfound ability to hit a jumper, it looks like she is. And someday, if she’s living out-of-state, she’s probably going to have the same urge to bring her kids back to Indiana so they can train in basketball in their training pants, and thus become properly imbued into the ways of being Hoosier.

Written by rkcookjr

October 29, 2009 at 11:37 pm

It’s like telling little boys not to make a gun out of a stick

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3229190967_cc249b85b9I think I’ve said somewhere before on this site that the reason for no-score leagues is not to protect the egos of the kids — it’s to make the parents shut up. The kids know the score.

For example, my 3-year-old daughter and my 6-year-old son. The other night we were playing a game sent home by my 6-year-old’s kindergarten teacher, a game in which you advance spaces based on your ability to read a word on a card. My 3-year-old, who does not know how to read, insisted on joining us.

My 6-year-old’s nose was out of joint because I was helping her read the words and advance. My 3-year-old’s nose was out of joint because I wouldn’t let her jump ahead spaces in front of her brother. Both of them were out of joint when it appeared there was a winner. “I won,” my 6-year-old said. “No, I’M THE WINNER!!!!!” my 3-year-old screamed.

As you parents of young children know, there truly are no winners here.

Now, I know this doesn’t always carry over to organized sports. But the kids who care about winning really care about it, no matter what you do to try to make them care. Also, those who don’t care about winning really don’t care about it.

That’s something we parents should remember and understand, and thus adjust accordingly our expectations and what we need to do to meet our children’s post-game needs. In either case, ice cream works exceedingly well.

Written by rkcookjr

March 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm