Pros/cons of pushing kids into sports


Olivia Palmer

The Sidekick copy editor Pramika Kadari thinks there are benefits and drawbacks to parents forcing their children to play youth sports. The benefits include important life values learned from athletics and the fact children may eventually begin liking the sport; one drawback is the child may not be very dedicated to a sport they’re pushed into.

Pramika Kadari, Copy Editor

My hands gripping the yellow Head tennis racket, I squint at the clock across the courts – only five minutes left until the lesson would be over. Letting out a sigh of relief, I reluctantly pick up the nearest ball for my next serve.

Throughout my childhood, many weekends were spent doing something I dreaded: playing tennis. One summer, I was sent to India to practice in the blazing sun every day; needless to say, it was not the best summer. Because my older sister was serious about the sport and my dad appreciated it, my parents encouraged me to play..

Many other kids and teenagers have faced similar situations for various reasons; some are even coerced into playing certain sports at the high school level. While I do wish I spent my childhood doing something I loved instead of something I dreaded, being pushed into tennis has also provided certain benefits.


Finding what you like during your early years

“As kids, we don’t really know what we want,” Coppell High School sophomore Riley Schultz said. “So by being pushed into things you’re not familiar with, you can gain that experience that you wouldn’t have gotten by yourself.”

Kids may assume they do not like athletics, but after being initially pushed into sports by their parents, they may end up finding one they enjoy. If they are never nudged in that direction, they may never even dip their toes into the world of sports.

“Young kids often think they know what they want – I did – but they usually don’t,” CHS tennis coach Rich Foster said. “Kids need a lot of encouragement and maybe a soft push.”

Exposing children to a variety of sports is particularly beneficial, as they are more likely to find one they love.

Learning to like the sport

“I started out playing tennis with my dad,” CHS sophomore Kunal Seetha said. “I didn’t like it at first. Every time I played, I would come home crying because I lost or something. But then later on, when I got better, I started liking it more. Everyone loses sometimes especially at the beginning, it’s just a part of learning. But as you practice more, you’ll enjoy it more, and you might start liking it more.”

Athletics teaches important life values

Sports teach us how to work hard, be disciplined, dealing with failure – all skills we can apply to other aspects of our lives. The rigid structure and intense rigor of athletics build character like few other activities can.

“I do believe parents should strongly encourage their kids to be involved in athletic activity,” Foster said. “Athletics are extremely important for life in general.”


Negative effects on happiness

Especially due to the competitive nature of sports, attending practice regularly for a sport they dislike can greatly affect children’s mental health and overall happiness. With all the other stressors in teenagers’ lives, the athletics they participate in should be a source of joy, not of only anger and frustration.

“Sports take up a lot of time; if they keep playing even in high school and they don’t like it, it’s not good for their mood,” Kunal said.

Lack of dedication to the sport

While being forced to play tennis, I would often make up excuses to get out of practice. I would stay up late watching movies the night before tournaments, not caring if sleep deprivation affected my performance the next day.

But after finally quitting tennis in middle school and joining cross country out of my own free will, I poured my soul into running. I have never worked harder for anything in my life than I did for cross country from seventh grade to my sophomore year in high school.

“I absolutely see a difference in dedication between people who are pushed into it and people who actually enjoy the sport,” Foster said.

Prevents from pursuing true passions

Even though I enjoyed cross country, it still left me little time and energy for my stronger passions, such as creative writing. If someone does not even enjoy the sport they are in, it is pointless to spend so much time and energy on it when that effort could be spent pursuing an activity they actually love.

“Once it becomes apparent that [the child] truly [does] not love whatever endeavor it is, that’s when the parents probably need to step back,” Foster said. “You’re killing a kid’s passion if you’re forcing them to do something they really don’t love.”

Follow Pramika on Twitter @pramika_kadari