when sports collide

SportsCollideWe’ve had an issue of overlapping sports in the house this summer, and it’s been making life complicated.

Summer swimming and club lacrosse have been in direct competition, mostly for Lilly but also a bit for Adam. Neither is ready to give up either sport. And at the ripe age of 13, I don’t really feel like they should have to choose.

The swim coaches are understandably tired of having swimmers sign out of swim meets week after week to play in lacrosse tournaments. In my house, we have tried to do things as evenly as we can. Lilly missed one lacrosse game to attend a swim meet but missed two swim meets for lacrosse games. She’s attended three of the five swim meets, which makes her eligible to swim in Divisionals — the final meet of the season this weekend.

At a recent meet, I asked one of the coaches if she would rather kids choose one sport instead of splitting their time.

“It’s hard,” was her answer. “It’s summer. They should be able to have a break and just do summer swim.”

I agree with her on many levels. Once upon a time, lacrosse was a spring sport leaving summer for swimming. But then the club scene took over.

Initially clubs were a way for elite high school athletes to get looked at by college scouts. But now, clubs have popped up everywhere and are creating teams for kids as young as 9 years old. Club teams are capitalism at it’s finest. They are out to make money and there’s definitely a market for it. Parents these days aren’t just thinking about college but about ensuring their kids are good enough to make the high school team or maybe just the travel rec team that all their friends are on. Parents want to make sure their kids aren’t left on the sidelines, so they pay huge fees and sacrifice half their summer in the hopes that they aren’t.

I know this because I’m doing it. I don’t know if my kids want to play lacrosse in college, and I don’t really care if they do. But they do want to play in high school. And while they are decent players — they aren’t phenoms. They need that extra time on the field, that extra instruction, that extra exposure to the game. And they want to play. So they are, and we are certainly paying for it.

Luckily, Lilly’s lacrosse coach thinks it’s good for kids to participate in more than one sport, so he didn’t mind that she missed a few games this season. But he’s in the minority. Many club coaches want a firm commitment.

I asked a friend recently, who is in the same boat as I am, what she thought of all this, and she agreed we are stuck.

“I don’t know what the answer is,” she said. ” We are pretty much in the rat race.”

Photo above: Lilly and her friend finished a lacrosse tournament last week in time to watch the end of a swim meet, but not early enough to swim themselves.

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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 14, Lilly, 13, Adam, 13, and Jonah, 9.