News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News


July 23, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: How early should kids be pushed into sports?

TERRE HAUTE — Just when I thought I’d heard everything, I got a heads up the other day.

A national news magazine reported on the national championship finals — not of the NBA, but a play-off for second-grade basketball teams. Yep! Six-and 7-year-olds from all over the country gathered in Memphis for bragging rights in basketball.

It would be tough for a kid with even a dab of coordination to ignore what has become America’s fascination with competitive sports. Most kids develop an interest in some sort of physical activity. We played baseball on a vacant lot in our neighborhood when the kid who actually owned a ball was automatically the pitcher and the game ended when he got mad and went home.

I believe it is good to encourage a child to be physically active. We hear enough about childhood obesity to encourage any activity played with something other than thumbs on a keyboard. It can also be a great shared family experience to watch high school or college or professionals play ball.

I don’t disapprove of hero worship. But reading the article I read, it didn’t sound as if the kids were having that much fun while the coaches and the parents yelled at each other. It came across as what the late Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing!”

It seems logical to encourage a child with good coordination and an interest in sport to try several different sports to see which best suits his (or her) interests and abilities. To commit a 6-year-old to a sport seems to border on child abuse, yet the article indicated that unless a kid commits by fourth grade, he will be too far behind to ever become a star performer on the court.

I wish I could pinpoint when games ceased to be games. Winning is more fun than losing, but there’s a lot to be learned from trying your best even though you may fall short of number one. At least you have been involved in teamwork and have had some self-discipline and good exercise.

Games are big business, very big indeed. I do know that, as a parent, I’d want to be confident that the choice to participate was based on what my child wanted — not what I wanted for him — or her.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message
NDN Video
Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010