Observing 21st century life in America
Published on October 3rd, 2017
by Lou Sandoval, Karma Yacht Sales
As many know, I’m a huge advocate for the Sport of Sailing. Partly because it’s my chosen vocation, but mostly because I have seen how (if you are listening) sailing is a great metaphor for life, business and the human condition. It’s an opportunity to get away from the fast pace of everyday life, connect with the elements and recharge.
But sailing is being challenged to evolve to the 21st century agenda that is governed by less personal time and busy schedules 24/7 and individual coaching for our kids to ‘get them to the next level’. Somewhere we seem to have lost a whole generation of sailors between 1995 and now. Somewhere over the last three decades, American society decided that specialization was the way to go… for our careers, for the sports our kids play, and the lives we lead.
Gone are the days of pick-up baseball and three sport athletes. In are Fall-Winter-Spring travel soccer; three day a week practices and games on the weekends. It’s no wonder we need a vacation from our lives sometimes. Sailing has not been immune to this as we have weekend travel Opti regattas, coach boat parents and cross training. A vigorous attempt at times for some parents to live vicariously through their kids.
I’ll admit my wife and I have bitten the poisoned apple. Our two daughters are fully immersed in travel soccer. On a recent weekend I spent two days travelling 150 miles round trip from Frankfort, IL to Cedarburg, WI and back to Chicago to shuttle our school aged daughters from one game to another. Where did the weekend go? All the while, our family boat lies in the harbor with the sailing season coming to a close… I pine for the chance to sneak in one last sail.
I get it, many will say that it comes down to decisions. For now, we have our daughters taking sailing school in the summers and they have grown up on boats since the ages of 6 months old and 9 months old. We choose to not force it on them at the risk of turning them off. They have (for now) naturally come back to wanting time on the boat at their pace.
If I wasn’t a stakeholder and boat owner, I can see why families can come to the decision that it’s time to sell the boat, pull away from the sport or god forbid – if the kids hate it – say goodbye. We’re fortunate that our girls love everything to do with the water and we make club life and boating life part of our busy agenda – but it isn’t easy and I get it.
The trick is how does a sport that offers the magic elixir for what ails us – sailing – become relevant again? How do we embrace that slower lifestyle? Will we look back 15 years from now and realize we had it wrong? Many questions, not enough time.
Editor’s note: For more on the topic, a report title The travel league that ate their life profiles the landscape of youth sports in Chicago, IL.