Recycle #3: Travel Teams

Here’s an excerpt from an e-mail I once wrote to a public school educator who had asked me my views on the whole notion of travel team athletics and the role of parents in that whole scene:

When my kids played travel team basketball, I saw parents who not only went to every game….. they made most of the practices! I always thought it was helicopter overkill. I think they thought I was an absentee parent. I looked at it this way, Why not intentionally miss a game or two and then talk about it over dinner? (i.e., “What was it like to play without me there? Do you think you play better or worse when I’m there? Which do you prefer?”)

Spectating parents would do well to ask, “Am I doing this for my kid or am I doing it for me?”  I don’t think there is a wrong answer; let’s just not kid ourselves about the truth. (In my case, Put me in front of two basketball courts side-by-side. Then give me a choice between running some full-court pick-up on one OR watching my daughter play a game on the other. I won’t lie: I’m stuck for an answer!)

Sports are big in my family. My dad was a respected 3-sport high school varsity head coach (football, basketball, baseball) in New Hampshire. I remember that he usually missed my birthday because it coincided with the New England Prep basketball tourney. (My reaction: I thought it was cool and couldn’t wait to be old enough to go on the bus with his team.)

When my oldest daughter won the Western Maine Class D hoops MVP at Augusta in 2007, I was as excited as any father would be. But the coolest part was watching how she felt about it. It was truly her thing. People sometimes ask me how I’d feel if neither of my daughters liked sports OR what I would do if they didn’t play lacrosse (my sport). I always answer, “I hope they find something they love as much as I have loved playing lacrosse.” It could be another sport. It could be art. It could be music. (I admit though, it’s a heckuva lot of fun that they have chosen sports!)

Onward, Malcolm Gauld