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As a child I remember the feeling of being part of a team. It was the greatest feeling in the world at the time. For a moment I wasn’t me and my friends weren’t them. We were Hakeem, Ralph, Chevis, McCray, and Sweet Lou. We were Glenn Davis, Alan Ashby, Dickie Thon, Kevin Bass, and Billy Hatcher. In the fall and winter we were Warren Moon, Ernest Givins, Haywood Jefferies, Mike Rozier, and Webster Slaughter. We played as if we were in the Astrodome or the Summit. We played as if H.S.E. and its crews were broadcasting our games. We played.


As I’ve grown as an adult and a parent I’ve realized a very disturbing trend. The games and sports children play these days have little to do with them. Instead of a child playing the games he or she chooses out of a love and passion for the sport, they play for their parents. This shouldn’t be considered a bad thing if it’s the child’s choice to play for their parents. I’ve seen less “want to” and witnessed more and more “have to” in these children. It saddens me. It angers me. It worries me.

By no means am I going to tell parents how to raise their children. I respect that they are the parents of their children. Who am I to suggest they are doing the wrong thing by forcing their child to play a sport when it’s so obvious the child doesn’t enjoy it? It isn’t my place to tell a parent, “It’s a shame you’re more interested in the team’s win, than the effort of your child.” I could do this, but again, who am I? It gets harder and harder for me to stand by while fathers belittle their sons for missing a ground ball in front a large crowd.

GBR:  FA Respect Pr Shoot - Ray Winstone 23/02/2009

It’s also getting tougher to sit in the stands next to the parents who think the officials at a junior high game are on the take and aren’t calling it both ways. Once the game is over these parents feel the need to follow Mr. Official to let him know “he shouldn’t be officiating”. It’s frustrating. When the game becomes bigger than a child’s development in said game, it becomes a problem. And this problem has spread like pythons in Florida, it happens everywhere.

The beautiful thing about sports is its ability to build confidence in a child. The ability to support and create and unbreakable bond with our children might be its best attribute. Don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say here. I do believe in instilling discipline. I do believe in making children accountable. If handled the right way these lessons will be absorbed and a competitive edge in our children can be created.


Maybe we can witness our children playing not because they “want to”, but because they LOVE to.

Manny Palomarez


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