Seeking a healthy balance for kids in sports

Bobby Curran
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Friday - July 11, 2008
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It’s hard for me to believe that this Saturday I’ll be taking my eldest son Max, 5, to his first football camp.Having a late start on the parenting bit, it is a joy to take him through some of the experiences I enjoyed myself as a kid: shopping for a baseball glove, throwing the ball around in the yard, watching his eyes light up on a new basketball uniform (hard to believe they make them so small).

I’m finding it challenging to be a teacher without being a critic. I’m aware that kids like activities they’re good at, and it’s hard not to give a push that will lead him to enjoy sports his whole life. Yet I can see other parents who have clearly lost the point - the pained expression on their children’s faces tell the tale all too clearly.

So it is a balancing act between encouraging and micromanaging.And I don’t expect much in the way of competence on the football practice field. As my wife is prone to say, “Honey, he’s 5!”


The keiki football camp at UH happens Saturday and Sunday, July 12-13, 9 to 11 a.m. with registration at 8 Saturday morning. For more details, go to http://www.hawaiiathletics.com.

The stars in major league baseball will be on view at Yankee Stadium next week at the annual All-Star game. It’s more fun to watch than the ones in other sports, largely because the most elemental matchups, pitcher against hitter, are the same. Yet even the All-Star game is not the part of baseball I like best. The storyline that fascinates me is what took place at Yankee Stadium Sunday night. Twenty-four-year-old Brett Gardner, the only baseball player ever drafted out of the College of Charleston, in the majors for seven days playing left field for the Bronx Bombers, comes up with a runner on second and two out in the bottom of the 10th. Gardner is 2-for-20 in the majors, and he’s facing Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who throws 98 mph. With two strikes on him, Gardner fouls off three pitches before slapping a splitter up the middle for the game-winning RBI.A week ago, Gardner was in Triple A, riding on a bus. Suddenly he’s being mobbed by Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mariano Riviera in Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox on national television. That’s baseball!


I woke up at 6 a.m. last Sunday and flicked on the tube, thinking I might catch the last of the Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final. Because of long rain delays, I picked up the match in the third set with Nadal leading two sets to none.

What followed was almost enough to turn me back into a tennis fan. The speed, power and grace of these two champions was mesmerizing. Seeing Federer come back and force a fifth set was mind-boggling.As good as anything in sport since, oh, say, Tiger Woods winning the U.S. Open on one leg.

One thing really stood out.At the end, with Nadal the winner, both players were interviewed on center court.You couldn’t have asked for more in sportsmanship - respect, humility and dignity. At Wimbledon, that match was one for the ages.

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