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17 April 2011


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I'm with you. I like the idea of soccer in theory... but there's no way am I going to do all that driving around for separate practices and games for each kid. That's the opposite of the kind of lifestyle I want.


I agree with you. We have two levels of soccer here: recreational and "express". Express involves travelling all over the city and state for tournaments--no thanks. Only our oldest son is interested in soccer. I'm happy the girls aren't interested yet. I don't want a hobby that dominates the family free time.

LeeAnn Balbirona

No, you're on the mark. My kids take taekwondo. It's indoors, in only one location and never requires travelling. They do go to different sessions, but they are one right after the other, so still convenient. We also do piano at my mother's and occasionally swim lessons all at the same time. Soccer is fun...soccer leagues are not!


We even live right across the street from the soccer field and aren't playing. Even with only one kid playing last year, I thought it was a nightmare. Every Saturday, that's what you'll do. Practices, three nights a week--right at dinner time usually. And the parents are to sit there on the sidelines (with their younger children, toddlers who won't sit, bigger kids who are bored and start jumping off the picnic tables. And, my son didn't even get to play that much.

This year, we're doing Nada.

I've decided, no matter the disadvantage in comparison to other kids, that we are not doing sports until middle school.

Amy F

I've been worrying about this lately, as son #1 is reaching the age when everybody at school is now doing soccer/hockey/baseball. In my ideal world, we can bike with the kids a lot and go x/c skiing and they can end up in track, x/c running, and x/c skiing in middle and high school. Things where we can be physically active with them as young kids. But I'm somewhat getting sucked into the team sports thing -- we've signed son #1 up for Little League this spring and we'll see how that goes. Little League at least is walking/biking distance from our house so by the time son #2 is old enough in two years, we might spend every night going between games, but they're all within a mile of our house. I refuse to sign them up for soccer in the suburb where they go to school because I hate driving as much as I currently do -- I'm not adding to it. Swim team sounds promising too. That's probably not as close, but could be done with all ages simultaneously. I did sign the boys up for soccer this fall because right now they can practice at the same time at a field 3 blocks from home. It just sounds like the opposite of fun to spend the summer driving here and there and everywhere. No thanks.


Thank you for this post! I'm so interested in reading everyone's responses. My two oldest will be five later on this year, and it seems like this is the age people around here start signing people up for soccer and the like. We have four children so far with another one due in August, and I just haven't been able to wrap my brain around how the scheduling for something as simple as soccer would work for our family in the future. My gut instinct (and my husband's) is that it wouldn't.


Totally agree - esp. since we live in a rural area and all the fields are 20-45+ min away!!

In general, I'm not too excited about anything that splits the family up, scouts, sports, what have you - at least for the younger ages. When they are older (teens perhaps?) then I think that certain activities might be worthwhile. But we'll just have to cross that bridge that bridge when we come to it...


We're the same way. No soccer for us. I look with empathy at the mom next door who carts her sons to two different levels of football, scouts and in the winter, hockey, and her two daughters to soccer, ice skating, ballet and gymnastics. It's crazy. I can't do it or I would fall apart. My kids can be in soccer when they can drive themselves :-P


Oh, and I forgot to say, we only do things that at least two kids can do (other than scouts). I have two that want to do martial arts and three that want to do Irish step dancing. I actually might get it worked out that it all might work on the same night this summer!


Fun topic. Maybe soccer and baseball seem feasible because they are relatively inexpensive up front and limited in duration to only a few weeks? I know that this was an attraction for us in the past. Also the chance of meeting up with some of the other families in our area (we live in a remote area -- no real neighborhood of kids if you don't go to the school).

We have karate available up here but it is relatively pricey and a 25 minute drive away. No YMCA within 60 miles.

Some years we have done seasonal sports, some years not. It was good experience for my athletic son -- he loved the camaraderie and developing his skills.

It does get insane very fast though, even with "only" a couple of kids. I've met the victims of sports over-scheduling.

No doubt many of us worry our kids will miss some stage of their development if they don't get a chance to do these kind of organized sports. It does seem like a standard part of American childhood nowadays.


We have 6 kids. We have not done sports, but have done music lessons. It is okay so far, but only 3 are taking lessons so who knows how crazy it might get. I am very seriously considering the Tae Kwan Do option for all of them. But it is a scheduling conflict with one child's music lessons. Anyway... I am interested in this discussion as well.


I've always wondered how many kids people had when they said, "only 1 activity per child per season". I am really not interested in 7 acitivities at the same time.

Our answer has been group lessons for the most part. Our piano teacher comes to our home. Group lessons or same time lessons have included swimming, tennis camp, golf.

The only exception is my oldest (16) has played soccer for 8 years. 7 of those were super easy with an inhouse soccer program and carpooling.

My other kids don't play on organized teams but they do play pick up games in the neighborhood, as well as ongoing planned soccer games where they invite friends, siblings, anyone who wants to head to the field to play.
To me, this is what it's all about - lifelong physical acitivity.

Yes, there are benefits to organized sports. They learn teamwork, etc. But there are other ways to learn those things. And, at what point do all those benefits get washed away as the family time washes away?

Let's face it, most kids aren't going to grow up to play major sports (I do know of a few that have that potential and their families willing make the sacrfices - but not for all of their kids - and the siblings are fine with that).


Early on in our parenting, my husband looked at the crazy way some sports families lived and said we were NOT going to live that way. We don't do any team sports for the reason you mentioned, but also because a lot of the soccer here is co-ed. I'm a firm believer that boys need boy time together without girls and they need to learn that it's not O.K. to be physical with a girl in the same way you would be with a boy. I've also heard too many stories from other parents about bad coaches and obsessive parents.

We do tennis with a great teacher who doesn't charge much (he loves getting kids interested in what he loves). Three of our kids also play the same instrument and have back to back lessons one morning a week, less than a mile from our home. They could technically walk, but they'd have to cross a wide, busy avenue.


Some further thoughts here:



We have 6 daughters. We did soccer with the oldest for 2 years, but were so glad when she decided drama was a better fit for her (not as active, but a good extracurricular activity). 2 daughters do ballet with back-to-back classes and one daughter (soon to be 2) does gymnastics. They will both have classes at the same time (and on the same days/times as ballet so all of my running is the same). My 4 year old seems to be really athletic, so I think gymnastics is a great place for her to start and we'll see where she ends up in the future. I prefer not to do the team sports for all of the time reasons mentioned, but I'm fortunate that my in-laws are in town and love to help with the carpooling, if necessary.
We do have piano lessons, but the teacher comes to our house while the youngest is napping. I consider that part of school and not "extracurricular".

Barbara C.

I think your concerns about soccer can go for any team activity. Even teeball has seemed to take over our lives at times, especially since my husband I were both assistant coaches. The practices are a much bigger issue than games, as games (unless you do a traveling league) are all at the same location.

Unfortunately most homeschool group activities take place while my husband has the van at work. As transplants from out-of-state and as homeschoolers with only one vehicle, organized sports have given all of us an opportunity to meet more people in our community, including other homeschoolers.

My oldest has had the advantage of more opportunities for activities, but she has mainly settled into gymnastics and softball. However, I didn't imagine when we put her in gymnastics at age 3 just for something to do and a way to socialize that one day we would be looking at her possibly competing on a team which could eventually take up 3 to 4 days per week.

So far #2 eschews any form of organized activity. On one hand it's a relief, but on the other hand I worry that she will miss out something she would really enjoy by not giving things a try. Plus, I think the kids do need to learn to take instruction from someone besides me and my husband.

I think it's just another one of those things where "what is best" or "what seems crazy" is in the eye of the beholder.

And another issue here is that for some families organized sports are a prime way for some parents to really connect with their kids. For instance, my husband is a huge baseball fan; he enjoys taking the girls out to practice playing ball, and they enjoy the special time with dad.


We don't do soccer or any sport here mostly because I. Don't. Care. And neither does Darwin. I'm willing to put myself out a bit for activities the kids want to do, but since no one is even aware that soccer exists... Not that I've taken any pains to inform the kids of the existence of any sport.

The three oldest take dance, on different days, but as the arts center is two blocks away, the older two walk together to their classes, and we all go and take books to the preschooler's class. I want to start up piano lessons again soon, but I think I'll find a teacher within walking distance (not hard in this neighborhood).

I do worry about when the boy gets old enough to start scouts, though. That looks pretty time consuming, and I hate camping.


I read Jamie's response and thought I'd chime in here. I only have 3 kids, but we do a fair number of elementary-age team sports because the kids LOVE it. Like Jamie, we only do non-competitive rec sports near our home with short seasons. One practice and one game per week, one sport at a time. It's a commitment, but it's very do-able. If we have more kids, we will make every effort to allow all of them to keep playing.

I've also found huge social benefits to team sports, both for the kids and for the parents. Our town's rec teams are organized by school, so kids play with other kids from their school. I'm not at school very much, so it's a great way for us to stay connected with other families.

It's also worth mentioning that my husband and I are athletic and played varsity sports in high school. We both felt that team sports had a very positive impact on us as teens and would love for our kids to have that experience too. Our kids are talented athletes, but the fact is that if they are not exposed to team sports until middle school they will probably not be able to make the high school teams. Not saying kids need to be on the competitive travel teams, but at least some level of exposure to team sports is helpful.

So, anyway-- I can see where Jamie is coming from and think that it's possible to do sports without sacrificing family time, if that's important to your family.


I got lucky when we moved in across the street from a family who loves soccer but hated the time commitment, driving, splitting family, etc. So they started their own league: parent-coached, using our local (usually empty) park, split by age but all practicing and then playing at the same time. This means the league only takes one Saturday morning slot, the parents get to visit (when not coaching or helping watch a coach's toddler), and the teams change up each week so no one gets stuck in a rut. I feel so lucky to be able to have my kids play this way :)


One day I looked at my husband and said, "why do we do this?" (Soccer) and he said, "because it's fun". End of story. We are a 4-kid soccer family and we love it. Its crazy, but it is great exercise and lots of fun.


As crazy as it sounds, if you ever want to play soccer, you have to start young. Other sports can be started as they get older (football). Further, soccer teaches quickness and agility, which help in other sports. Truly, I'm hoping for athletic scholarships. Call me crazy, but it could happen. Ours play comp soccer. as much as possible.

Elizabeth Foss

Not necessarily. As the Academy model develops in the US, all the teams in a club travel to the same location on the same day. So, one could have four children playing competitive soccer and you'd travel as a family to one location. It's much like competitive swimming--only outdoors and there's no chance practice will be at 4AM.
I spend a good deal of time in the car, but that is mostly a function of where I live--things tend to be spread out and traffic is an issue no matter what we're trying to do (including getting to church). The reality is that most families with many children --I have 9-- discover that to meet the needs of each individual child, moms and dads have to drive more than moms of 2 or 3. My husband and I have been committed to providing opportunities and allowing each child to follow his or her passion. That means our eldest daughter dances 4 times a week. She's 14 and she pays for much of it herself. We get her there. It's her passion and her joy. My eldest went to college and played Division 1 soccer. The next boy in line was the MVP of the state basketball championship tournament this spring. And the next one in line is in residence with the U17 Men's National Team. Soccer. We don't drive him anywhere--he lives 1000 miles from home. Right now, he's flying to Holland to play soccer for a few days. Needless to say, we're not going to watch as a family;-). The next two brothers play competitive soccer for same club. And every single time we get to where we're going on the weekend and I settle in with little ones who have friends with siblings on the team, I'm so glad we've put forth the effort. The whole family has benefited. Really:-)


As a teacher, I see a lot of parents who spend every moment of free time ferrying their children to these practices and more. On good days, I marvel at the selflessness of these folks in trying to enrich the lives of their children. On bad days, I wonder exactly what is being accomplished by participation in team sports these days. Bullying is rampant and the self-centeredness of the kids I see (10 -12 years old) is breathtaking. Aren't team sports supposed to be about learning how to be part of a team?


I agree with you, Paul. By the way, my comments about our family not playing soccer certainly weren't about soccer perse--my husband follows European soccer pretty religiously. If we *were* going to choose a sport, that would be it. I was more talking about team sports and lessons in general. The comments here so far have been really interesting. I still think that my homebody preferences mean that soccer (among other sports) isn't for us. If my husband thought the opposite, though, we would definitely follow his lead.

[NOTE from site owner. Celeste is responding to a comment that I deleted because, despite being nominally about soccer, it was comment spam - the URL pointed to a site selling rifle scopes.]


In our community, by age 11 the soccer players are funneled into "select" soccer (upping the cost in time and money) as the rec teams dry up. The competition is very extreme, with week-long camps to train for the try-outs (age 11!).
It's difficult to say "no" to something your child really enjoys, but the good of the family has to come first.
We love Scouting for the wide range of physical activities, most of which can be enjoyed by the whole family (age appropriate).
Most of the boys who continue in competitive sports simply don't have time for Scouts and drop out.

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