Harken Derm

How Sailing Can Take Hold

Published on August 7th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The headline caught my attention, “The problem isn’t the Little League World Series, it’s that we watch it.” Our local newspaper was commenting on recent strife within a neighboring team which does quite well in the LLWS, winning it all in 2009. The point was there’d be no discord if we let kids be kids.

“All youth sports have gone off the rails to a certain degree, with travel teams and academy programs and $100 per hour ‘privates’ and pre-pubescent specialization and overuse injuries and burnout.”

Parents do struggle to allow kids to be kids. Whether it be at school or in sports, our desire to help has lost its boundary. I wish I watched less of my kid’s baseball games and sabot races. Much easier to be supportive with less information. They were more worried about enjoyment than scoreboard, but I wanted them to do well. But why?

“The first myth about competitive youth sports is they’re just for the kids, building character, teaching teamwork, imparting life lessons. They’re not. They’re really for the adults, making them feel worthwhile as parents, allowing them to boast to co-workers at the water cooler Monday morning, allowing them to post team photos on Facebook with medals and braces glistening in the sunlight.”

That’s why.

It took some time before I discovered my greatest joy was when my kids did things on their terms, without parent intervention. That’s when they had their greatest joy too. But so much today is structured and scheduled rather than letting free play rule. If only I knew then what I know now.

A friend of mine shared a story of how on a windy weekend, his teenage son and daughter – both excellent sailors – suggested how fun it would be to take out the Club 420 and rip around. No coach, no hovering parent, just them messing around. And they did it… now that’s how sailing can really take hold.

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