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FranklyStein: Should we join the club?

Do your kids play club sports?

Mine don’t; at least not yet.

As a parent, I wish there weren’t such a thing as club sports. I’d be just as happy if my kids only played rec until they went to high school. I can’t imagine paying for them all to be on club teams much less getting them to all the practices, games and tournaments. It might set me over the edge.

Although they are pretty athletic, my kids aren’t phenoms. So it’s hard for me to grasp the need to take it to the next level in any one particular sport.

But there’s this pressure out there, and I’m easily pressured. Seems like lately, everyone is playing club sports. There’s the sense that if you aren’t playing club, you’re just not going to cut it. You’re not going to make the better rec team, you’re not going to make the high school team, sheesh, you just might not make it in life. (Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.)

Since I’m a worrier by nature, I’ve been asking a lot of questions about club teams over the past year or two. What does your child gain from playing club? Does he need to play club to make the high school team? Can she survive in a sport without it?

The answers I’ve gotten have been varied. Most people just tell me what I want to hear. They say club isn’t essential until high school and only then if you want to play in college. Club tournaments are where the college scouts go, they say, and that’s their only real purpose.

But if this is true, why are so many little kids playing club sports now?

I’ve always said my kids would have to beg before we ever considered a club team. That’s worked out pretty well until now.

Recently my older son has been asking to play club lacrosse. Before, the club scene intimidated him, but now all his friends are playing. He feels like he’s missing out on something. He wants in on it. He loves lacrosse and would probably thrive playing it all year long.

Lucky for us, we’ve missed the deadline for this year so we have more time to think about it. Is it right for him? What will he gain? Will it improve his game or just burn him out? It’s hard to know.

The good news is, he’s the only one of our kids interested for now. A friend of my daughter’s recently asked if she wanted to try out for a club team and my daughter instantly said “no way.” No need for us to think that over twice. My older daughter says she would rather put extra energy into swimming. And as luck would have it, swimming year round is definitely cheaper.

So what are your thoughts on club teams? Do your kids play? Is it worth it?

Let me know.

stein family2

FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 13, Lilly, 11, Adam, 11, and Jonah, 7.

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