Peewee athletes

Kids start playing on sports teams before they can tie their own shoes. Pediatricians aren’t keen on the growth of organized sports for pre-schoolers. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, some kids start tackle football at the age of seven.

Like the dinosaurs, sandlot sports have vanished, and no one knows exactly why. Child-care experts generally attribute the demise to the increasing number of single-parent and dual-income households, and to heightened anxieties about child abduction.

In other words, parents are too busy to keep an eye on neighborhood games and too afraid to let children play without supervision. For a few hours a week, at least, organized sports solve both problems. But they create others.

Parents rush around to ferry kids to practices and games, eating up family time. Dad doesn’t teach the kids to throw a ball in the backyard; that job now belongs to the coach.

When I look back, it’s amazing how little adult supervision we baby boomer kids had. We walked to school with other kids from kindergarten on. We stayed after school to play pick-up games of soccer baseball or softball. We played in the park without adults.

Once, climbing a tree in the park by myself, my foot stuck. Eventually, my arms got so tired that I let go. At that point, I was hanging upside down from the tree by my foot. Just as a passing driver stopped to help, my foot came out of the shoe and I fell on my head. And I grew up to be a blogger.

About Joanne


  1. >>I fell on my head. And I grew up to be a blogger.

    Cause? Effect? NAH!!!!

  2. Well, when I was four months old, my mom knocked me off a kitchen counter on to my head. I also used to cut my head open running in to various things as a young child (I’ve still got a number of scars up there). And now I’m a blogger too!

    “Remember kids, always wear a helmet, or you could end up a blogger as well!”

  3. I am so sick to death of parents who:

    -over-medicate kids
    -sit them in front of the televisions they put in their kid’s bedrooms all day
    -buy the kind of food that makes their kids fat
    -worry so much about non-existent kidnappers that they don’t let their kids out of their sight
    -drive their kids 2 blocks to school
    -over program kids so that they don’t have any down time
    -put TVs in their big stupid SUVs to keep their over-medicate, fat, non-kidnapped, over-programmed kids from bothering them on the 2-block drive to school


  4. On the other hand, now that you put it in Boomer-terms, I’m all in favor of organized sports and SUVs — anything but produce another “We’re the Greatest Generation” Generation 😉

  5. I blame smallre families the demise of sandlot sports. Someone has to “supervise” kids, and if big brother/big sister isn’t around that means that the parents have to do it. Besides, if you have a couple of siblings and a ball, you are already well on your way to getting a game started.

  6. Bob Diethrich says:

    I had an experience this summer when I returned home to Pitttsburgh that made me realize just how much times had changed.

    I lived in a wonderful neighborhood, Montrose Hill, which was a community on a hill. It was a safe neighborhood as there were only two streets that wound their way up to the top. We did not get any “drive through” traffic.

    The streets were mostly on the top of the hill and on three side of the hill there were woods. The kids of my generation mostly played in those woods, unsupervised.

    There were unwritten rules. The kids from a street laid unofficial claim to the woods that were entered from their street, but relax there were no “gang wars” over turf. The Riverview kids ran the Riverview woods. The kids from my street, Lawrence, made the climb down the steep path to the creek that ran past it to the Allegheny River.

    And oh the adventures we had. There were always a few budding engineers who could make forts or shacks out of anything found in the woods. We played war games and went on hikes were our Moms would make us a sack lunch which we ate somewhere in the woods.

    Every year when I return home I walk through these woods. And I finally noticed this year that these woods have probably seen no youth activity in years. There were no signs of makeshift forts or even indications that the paths had been trod on recently! I became saddened.

    I thought of the students that I teach in my cookie-cutter suburban high school, their lives full of gated-communities, soccer practice and dance lessons. God, they never had the chance to explore woods like these. I think of their over-concerned Boomer parents who are afraid to let their kids out of their sight and I sigh!

    As someone else pointed out, what happened to “sandlot” sports? Our hill also had a small park with a little league field and a few swings and a small basketball court. When I was growing up (born 1965) that place was full of kids almost every summer day! There were no coaches, no uniforms, no drills. Sometimes as few as four or five kids would bring balls and bats and play variations of games designed for limited numbers. Now, every summer I go up there, I have yet to see any children up there at all.

    So sad! So sad!

  7. My boys still play pickup basketball, baseball & football. One’s in college and one’s in high school. I think they learn about rules and settling their own problems when left alone.

    I’ve disliked the organized sports for sometime, even though my kids participate(d). It has gotten to be too much. Seasons last too long, we played over 75 games in youth baseball one year, and demand too much of parents and kids, both money and time.

  8. This “Greatest Generation” has replaced the tradition of childhood with their preferred ruling ideology of “whatever”.

    Consequently “whatever” (internet, crap music, mass media pornmongers & other virtuous exemplars from the bowels of humanity) now serves to “amuse” the “Greatest Generation’s” little ones. While Nero fiddles…

    Sad is the tip of the iceberg.

  9. I feel that my kids are missing out on so much of the independence I had as a kid. When I was in third or fourth grade, I had the roam of the neighborhood on my bike. As long as my homework was done and was back in time for dinner, things were cool. I’m not a boomer, mind you, I’m in my early thirties.

    Fast forward to now: I have six kids so far, aged 10 and under. They are probably getting more unstructured play time than most of their peers because their siblings are always around. But beyond the immediate family life, socialization gets so COMPLICATED! We have to set up DAYS and TIMES when their school buddies are free. Half of them are in daycare after school anyway.

    Meanwhile, the “safety in numbers” theory that used to apply when I was a kid really doesn’t any more. I cannot let my kids go to the playground without at least one other sibling, even though I went by myself all the time as a kid. ‘Cause when I was a kid it was pretty much guaranteed there would be OTHER KIDS there too. Now, there are no guarantees that sending one of my kids out alone won’t mean he or she is the only one on the playground with no one in shouting distance…

    So what’s the solution here??

  10. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Check on the insurance premiums required for a sandlot ball park.

  11. I’m not sure if there’s been a backlash within organized sports or if my seven-year-old brother just got lucky. He was in the local YMCA 7-9 year old flag football league. It was sandlot football, except with coaches who cheered the kids on and gave them snacks afterwards. Best of both worlds, I say.

  12. Sorry, Joanne: you should never have posted that bit about your falling on your head as a child, and then growing up to become a blogger.
    It will only encourage them. 😉

  13. Cousin Dave says:

    What happened to sandlot sports? Hell, I know exactly what happened to it: So many parents today are codependent on their children that they cannot possibly let the little ones out of their sight for five seconds, lest they began to feel lonely and unloved in those few seconds. (The parents, not the children!) This is why we see developers building huge house-caves where everything is in one room, lest an evil wall or door render the little dears invisible for even a moment. If it wasn’t for some lingering quaint American notion of privacy for certain bodily functions, these houses would have all of their toilets out in the middle of the great room too.

    When I was in my early teens, I was allowed to ride my bike pretty much all over town on weekends and in the summer. The rule was that if I didn’t get back in time for dinner, I would have to heat up the leftovers myself (which I happily accepted at times). My parents knew that the purpose of parenthood was to raise children. Now, it’s the other way around. The next time I hear someone with a baby or toddler say “I wanted a child so that I’d have someone to love me”, I’m going to beat them clear up to their child’s 18th birthday.

  14. Kirk Parker says:

    Cousin Dave,

    > The next time I hear someone with a baby or toddler say…

    Please, please, please tell me you’re making that up!

  15. Jack Tanner says:

    Getting rid of pee wee sports isn’t going to send kids back to the schoolyards. All it’s going to do is give the kids one less activity to participate in. It’s a complex problem having to do with a lot of things, like God forbid the mention of it but, two working parents. Pee Wee sports aren’t the problem but they’re a very small part of the solution. I coached Pee Wee flag football this fall and our kids and the parents had a ball. The league even committed the mortal sin of keeping score and having a championship. Our team won the Superbowl

  16. Cousin Dave says:

    Kirk Parker begged:

    > Please, please, please tell me you’re making that up!

    Afraid not. I’ve heard this from three different acquaintences, and numerous times on news programs and such. (The acquaintances didn’t stay acquaintances for long after that.)

  17. Cousin Dave says:

    To carry my rant even further: Way too many people think of children as pets. As prima facie evidence, I submit this: