Our Youth: Soccer vs Baseball

April 15, 2011

We just got the roster for Andrew’s little league baseball team. This means one sure thing: Soccer practice begins this week.

When I was Andrew’s age (granted Nixon had just finished his first term) soccer was a Fall sport. It was an alternative to football. If my grade school coach hadn’t known the coach from Mountain Side, NJ, there would be no regular opponent.

Then kids played baseball in the Spring and Summer. And when you were not in a league you were playing wiffle ball in a friend’s backyard, hardball in a small field, or throwing against a school wall using a tennis ball. A cracked bat was worth gold because you had a stick ball bat.

We knew about soccer’s World Cup. It was something Germany, Italy, and every country in South America coveted. And the final was on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, taped and spliced into segments with track and field and equestrian events. NBC had the TV share – The Baseball Game of the Week.

No one knew Kyle Rote Jr. was the USA’s top collegiate soccer player. But you knew Joe Pepitone was a bust at first base.

Now soccer is played  year-round. Practice is two nights a week. There are at least 2 games each weekend. Families often have to choose church or soccer on Sunday morning.    

And soccer is as much a social event – sometimes more – than a sport. Parents line the “pitch” with lawn chairs. “Who knows the score?” “Who has the juice boxes?” It can be a play date with uniforms.

OK, that’s not fair. soccer is a great team sport requiring multiples skills. And kids should be encouraged to be the best they can – to work and value skills and effort. But they should play one sport or game at a time.

Andrew may have only 3-4 years of organized baseball left. I don’t think he’ll play in high school. He’s not a “Select Team” soccer player. He plays rec league soccer. He may make a choice.

You know which one his dad would choose.

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