How children's sports in the US depletes the wallets of parents
From 7 to 14 years, my day began at 5: 40 in the morning. While everyone was asleep, I collected things myself and, accompanied by a pack of stray dogs, went to the pool for the morning workout. In the evening there was another 2-hour workout. And so every day, except Sunday.
And in the summer I went to sports camps, where the volume of physical activity exceeded all possible norms. So, at the age of 10 I went to a camp near the town of Arzamas-16 (Mordovia). We ran 10-15 kilometers a day, swam another 6-8 kilometers, and also did various strength exercises. You put, for example, on your back a partner heavier than yourself and run up the hill with her. And you always go hungry, because the sports shift is in a regular camp, and everyone has the same food.
I recorded myself in the swimming section, traveled to the pool myself, and also independently settled all the questions that arose with the teachers because of my trips to the competitions. My mom doesn't even know the names of all the swimming styles. It was something the child was doing, and the parents had nothing to do with it.
My memories of children's Soviet sports terrify Americans, and they seem to be something in between Romanian orphanage and the Gulag. But I myself until recently perceived this approach as quite normal. I was waiting for something similar for my son. What was my surprise when, having recorded it on the 4 of the year for swimming, I learned that classes take place once a week and there are only six of them. During the sessions themselves, which last 45 minutes, the trainer works with each child individually, so the 30 minutes from 45 are just sitting on the board. Then you can take another 4-6 of similar modules, each of which lasts no more than a month and a half.
The sports section may cost more than the university.
In general, in the United States there is a huge variation in the organization of children's sports. You can go once a week to the local health club, where they take everyone. You can get into the school team, go in for 2-6 once a week, and compete. And you can hire a personal trainer or join a private team and devote your life exclusively to sports, organizing studies and everything else around training. American Olympic champions and sports stars fall into the latter category and train even more than I did in my time.
And if a child is unlucky enough to receive a sports grant or other financial assistance, parents pay for everything - even if the young athlete represents a state or country in international competitions.
Depending on the sport, the child’s age, the level at which he or she is engaged, and even the place of residence, the annual expenses for sports activities range from $ 50 to more than $ 20 thousand per year.
My colleague, videographer Bruce Feder, spent $ 100 thousand on his son's hockey classes. He says that before that, son Brendan used to go to baseball, which cost them only $ 100 per year: $ 50 dollars for participating in the children's league and as many more for inexpensive outfit. The leagues recruit children into teams for the season, schedule and appoint coaches.
But when he saw a hockey game, little Brandan caught fire with it. At first, the parents opposed their son's hobby. “I went to the sports store, saw how much it all cost, and immediately left,” recalls Bruce. But when a sports arena was built next to their house, which became the main training place for the team Washington capitolsthey surrendered.
At first you had to pay for participation in the league and uniforms, but every year the costs grew. They were supplemented by trips to competitions and training camps. If the skates for a 7-year-old child cost $ 125, then for a 15-year-old player in the youth league - at least $ 600. The annual league participation fee has grown to $ 1,5. As part of the team, Brandan traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and even spent a week in Yekaterinburg (at a sports camp). Hockey expenses have increased to $ 20 a year.
The workload also grew: from 3-4 lessons per week (7-9 years) to 5-hour workouts and 6 games once a week (from 16 years).
Bruce and his wife are middle class. “But we have very generous grandparents. Good support system, he says. - Most of the parents of my son's teammates are extremely wealthy. I'm talking about millions. " You can play hockey for less money, Bruce explains, but not at that level. In addition, it is advisable to live in the north of the country - there are stronger local teams, and you will not have to travel so much.
Many parents consider children's interest in sports as an investment in order to continue to receive a sports scholarship to the university.
In the case of Bruce, this did not work. None of the coaches of the best hockey teams of American universities Brendan not invited. Today he is 20, and he is a student at the University of Denver. Training costs $ 63 thousands per year. If he went to a local, more modest college, education would have cost $ 90 thousands for all 4 years of study.
“Starting next year, Brandan will pay for himself - he will take a loan,” insists his father. However, he does not regret the money spent. He says that hockey made his son a strong, mature and intelligent man.
Parents are trainers, sports education is not required
While his son was playing baseball, Bruce himself was his coach. This is a very common phenomenon in the United States. And for this it is not at all necessary to have an appropriate education or even discharge in sports. My friend Heinrich Karpinsky, a programmer from Ukraine who lives in the Washington neighborhood, played football exclusively as a courtyard as a child, but this did not prevent him from coaching two teams that his sons play.
“When the time came to divide the children into teams, it turned out that there were so many of them that there weren't enough coaches. When there is no coach, there is no team. Money is returned to parents, children are crying, snot is smeared on a T-shirt. So when the league director asked which parent was ready to become a coach, I agreed. I’m definitely not the first one to train footballers without understanding anything about it, ”says Heinrich.
The coaching position, he says, gives him the opportunity to choose the time and place of training, as well as make interesting observations.
“The best parents are those who have already been coaches. They sit quietly on the hill, drinking coffee, chatting about life and enjoying the weather. There are parents who are constantly late, and this is understandable - work, traffic jams. There are parents - powerful "experts" in sports, and, as a rule, in all its forms. During training and play, they usually vigorously shout to children what to do, using as much sports terminology as possible. And, of course, the "dissatisfied father". He is dissatisfied with the place and time of training, he is unhappy that little attention is paid to his child during training. Dissatisfied with the fact that his child is little released on the field; the fact that the games are played, ”Heinrich shared.
The dark side of children's sports
Over the past 10-15 years, the number of children involved in organized sports in the United States has grown significantly. Since running along the street and jumping rope without adult supervision can result in deprivation of parental rights and a foster family for children, organized sport becomes almost the only way to move and get exercise.
In addition to physical activity and positive health effects, there are many other benefits to playing sports. Psychiatrist Jim Taylor claimsthat children who play sports have a higher IQand also "learn important life skills such as hard work, patience, perseverance, and the ability to accept setbacks and losses." In team sports, children develop social skills, and in individual sports, internal motivation and independence.
But in children's sports there are also disadvantages. AT article Under the title "The Dark Sides of Youth Sports," a professor at Rutgers University, a former chief psychologist at the United States Olympic Committee and a Ph.D., Shane Murphy, writes:
Parents, worrying about their children, especially the youngest, begin to behave indecently: arguing with a trainer, shouting at your own or someone else’s child, and causing psychological damage to your own children. And they can in emotional impulse and overwhelm the head coach or referee. Then very embarrassing, and sometimes expensive.
Exploiting children who demonstrate sporting talent. In 1993, the sociologist Peter Donnely even proposed to adopt a special law that protects the interests of young elite athletes, who are earned by parents and coaches.
Organization of children's sports on the basis of professional, as a result, a significant number of children leave it. They either do not meet the physical requirements, or they become uninteresting, too hard, absorbs all their free time.
Harm to health and injury. Murphy cites a study that found that of the 695 surveyed young athletes, 39% suffered from bulimia. Every year, four million young athletes get into the Department of Traumatology. The amount of damage to the joints due to over-exploitation is increasing. Even among schoolchildren, steroid use is common. So, research among middle school students in Massachusetts revealed that 2,7% of them were sitting on steroids. And boys, athletes, said Murphy, consume more alcohol than their less athletic peers.
My husband's nephew severely injured his kidneys after the baseball coach forced all the boys to squat an infinite number of times as punishment for poor marks on multiple players. Ryan, 17, had a muscle torn and the contents of the fibers entered the bloodstream and then into the kidneys. After spending a week in the hospital, he said goodbye to sports, to which he devoted ten years.
Sexual exploitation of children and violence against them. This is extremely rare, but it happens. Recently USA Today published investigationwhich documented the sexual abuse and exploitation of 368 gymnasts over the past 20 years. The youngest of them was 6 years.
I began to teach my child how to swim with 4 months. First of all, not to be sick and learned to float. I train it myself, once a week. He goes to the karate section, which in our case plays the role of the extended day, and sometimes we also go skiing. I have no Olympic ambitions for him. It is better to postpone for college than to rely on a sports scholarship.
The original column is published on the website. Ukrainian service "Voices of America". Reprinted with the permission of the author and publication. Translation from the Ukrainian language "New time".
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