How children's sports in the US depletes the wallets of parents - ForumDaily
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How children's sports in the US depletes the wallets of parents

Фото: Depositphotos

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 city of Arzamas-16 (Mordovia). We ran 10-15 kilometers a day, swam another 6-8, and also performed various strength exercises. For example, you put a partner heavier than you on your back and run with her up a hill. 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.

Фото: Depositphotos

And unless the child is lucky enough to receive a sports grant or other financial assistance, the parents pay for everything - even if the young athlete represents the 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 after seeing a hockey game, little Brendan became excited about it. At first, the parents opposed their son's hobby. “I walked into a sports store, saw how much it all cost, and immediately walked out,” Bruce recalls. 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 it was necessary to pay for participation in the league and uniforms, but every year the costs grew. These included trips to competitions and training camps. If skates for a 7-year-old child cost $125, then for a 15-year-old youth league player it cost at least $600. The annual fee for participation in the league has increased to $1,5 thousand. As part of the team, Brandan traveled throughout the United States, to Canada, Europe, and even spent a week in Yekaterinburg (at a sports camp). Hockey expenses have increased to $20 thousand a year.

Фото: Depositphotos

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 belong to the middle class. “But we have very generous grandparents. A good support system,” he says. “Most of the parents of my son’s teammates are extremely wealthy. I'm talking millions." You can play hockey for less money, explains Bruce, but not at this level. In addition, it is advisable to live in the north of the country - there are stronger local teams there, and you won’t have to travel as 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, Brendan will pay for himself - he will take out a loan,” his father insists. However, he does not regret the money spent. He says that hockey has made his son a strong, mature and intelligent person.

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 it came time to divide the children into teams, it turned out that there were so many of them signed up that there were not enough coaches. When there is no coach, there is no team. Parents get their money back, children cry, snot is smeared on their T-shirt. So when the league director asked which parent would be willing to become a coach, I agreed. I’m definitely not the first person to train football players 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 were already coaches. They sit quietly on a hill, drink coffee, chat about life and enjoy the weather. There are parents who are constantly late, and this is understandable - work, traffic jams. There are parents who are powerful “experts” in sports, and, as a rule, in all its forms. At practices and games, they usually vigorously yell at the kids exactly what to do, using as much sports terminology as possible. And, of course, “the father is dissatisfied.” He is dissatisfied with the place and time of training, and is dissatisfied that his child is given little attention during training. Dissatisfied that his child is not allowed on the field much; the fact that games are lost,” shared Heinrich.

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 “learn important life skills such as hard work, patience, persistence, and the ability to accept setbacks and losses.” In team sports, children develop social skills, and in individual sports, internal motivation and independence.

Фото: Depositphotos

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 suffered severe kidney damage after the baseball coach forced all the boys to do endless squats as punishment for several players' poor grades. 17-year-old Ryan's muscle ruptured and the contents of the fibers entered the blood and then into the kidneys. After spending a week in the hospital, he said goodbye to the sport to which he had 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 the publication. Translated from the Ukrainian language "New time".

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