What I Think about Sports Try-Outs


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    By: Amy Franzwa

    Holding try-outs for athletic teams is a longtime tradition. They allow coaches and managers to select the most talented athletes in the bunch to optimize the team’s chances of winning.  Is this tactic, which increases the competitiveness and seriousness of sports appropriate?  Or, should parents and sports culture take the “winning isn’t everything” approach?   Here are my thoughts on the subject.

    Recreation rather than competition may be all well and good for 5-year-olds in a parks and recreation t-ball league, but when kids get to middle school and high school age sports I think it should be about competition. I’m a firm believer that kids should have to earn their position on the team. Athletes should have to prove themselves worthy of more play time and earn the coveted starting positions.

    My logic stems from two vital facts of life.  First, life isn’t fair and it shouldn’t be.  The fortunate reality is that everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses.   We do not think all students should be given the same grade regardless of their intelligence or the effort they put in.  The same thinking should apply to sports.  We need to be more realistic as parents and need to stop accepting (and celebrating) mediocrity to avoid hurt feelings.  Do we really think this will benefit our child as they grow older and realize that it is their ability that matters?  If your son really can’t play sports, wouldn’t it be better to shift his attention to an activity that he can excel at? There are such a wide variety of activity options today it makes it easy to find the one that will allow your child to shine. 

    Second fact of life, if you want something, you need to work for it.  Rather than looking at getting cut or warming the bench as unfair, we must look at it as a perfect teaching opportunity. We have to stress to our children that hard work pays off and sports provide the perfect platform. If your child really wants to participate in a sport that they find challenging, don’t let them throw in the towel. Help them get better! If your son doesn’t make the traveling little league team or your daughter gets cut from the competitive dance team, work with them to help them perfect their game so they can ‘wow’ the coaches next year.

    If you can’t personally help them up their game in a particular sport, find a specialty sports camp or private athletic instructor that can. Most professional sports teams, colleges and universities provide excellent youth programs and summer camps to help kids hone their skills in a variety of athletics. 

    Ask the most successful people, not just professional athletes, what drove them to better themselves and they’re likely to say it was failure. Sports try-outs drive home important life lessons.   These life lessons will transfer into their adult lives off the field or court and long after they hang up their baseball bats and dance shoes.

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