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Should Elementary School Kids Get Cut From Sports Teams?

Kids sports
Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

I only ask this question because of something I have been watching over the last two days at my son’s school, which I will not identify because it’s not about the school – it’s about the system in general. The last two days were tryouts for the school’s boy’s basketball team. This particular school has a boy’s team and a girl’s team. Yesterday was cut day and the kids who were cut, were absolutely devastated and it got me to thinking. Is getting cut at that level a good thing? My instincts say no.

The kids who were cut were more hurt than I expected and let me say right up front that my son was cut and that is NOT the reason for this piece. I understand the economics and school basketball is much different from football. School basketball teams typically carry 12 to 14 players and most schools really cannot afford to have many more than that and again, I get that, but shouldn’t all kids at that level be able to play and learn? I was at the tryouts and where my son is concerned, I agreed with the coach’s decision to cut him, if the cuts were necessary which, obviously they were.

What I started to get concerned about was the message we were sending to those kids who were cut and wondering if to some extent, this wouldn’t cause some kids to give up. All they know is they were not good enough to make the team and at that age, does that not immediately create a feeling of inferiority? Kids at this level are very young and not making a team, could have a very long-term effect as they move forward in life…and I’m very concerned about that.

The reverse can also be true about the kids who made the team. Are we telling them that they are better than the other kids who didn’t make it? Again, these are very young children who are trying to develop a sense of self and that sense needs to be nurtured and encouraged in a positive way as they move forward. Kids who already have issues in the classroom or social issues might turn to something they love, like sports, in order to find something positive they can strive for, which I think is so important at the elementary school level.

Being cut is a part of life and we all know that. As adults, we interview for jobs we don’t get, apply for loans and get turned down, get divorced, fired or anything that can go right straight to our self image so, imagine how hard that is for a child to understand and accept. We certainly do NOT want them to accept that they are not good enough…. EVER!

This is not about being cut from a sports team… not even close. If you could have seen the faces yesterday of the kids who were cut, you might be asking yourself the same question and wondering the same thing about the effects these types of things can have on kids that age and how it might shape them for the future.

By the way, I give the coach a tremendous amount of credit for how he handled the whole thing. He had an envelope for each child with its name on the front. He told them in the envelope you will find one of two letters…. one saying you made the team and the other saying you did not. The cut letters were very well written and very positive and I thank him for that on behalf of all the kids. This coach really cared and chose his words very carefully…good work coach – I could see how hard this was for you.

I don’t know what the answer is here, but I think some consideration in this area is worth our time because as a parent, the tears yesterday were very hard to watch, not because they didn’t make the team, but because of how some them said it made them feel inside, that’s what got my attention and that was enough to make me want to cry.

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