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Family vs. Sports

On Saturday, June 18, USA soccer stars, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were not at soccer practice with the national team as it prepared for it’s June 19 game against Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Each of them was attending their respective sister’s weddings. Donovan was in California and Dempsey was in Texas. However, by 7AM on Sunday they were both back in Washington D.C. to be with the team for the quarterfinal match against Jamaica that day. USA coach, Bob Bradley, gave both players permission to attend the weddings, if the team did not have a game that day. Fortunately for both, the weddings were the next day. This situation made me think a lot about both of my son’s sports careers when they were younger. Now college students at 21 and 20 years of age, both participated in several sports activities during their youth. It reminded me of games and tournaments that occurred on numerous holidays and special days in our lives. We had games on Thanksgiving, July 4, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. One of my sons had practices on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Over the years, I have had many clients who have had dilemmas regarding whether their children should or should not participate in activities on holidays or when they were having special family activities. The mother of young high school cheerleader was in a quandary about her daughter’s mandatory team practices over the week between Christmas and New Year’s. For over a year, the family had planned a cruise for their parents who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary during that week. When they found out that there daughter had made the cheerleading squad in the spring, they attended a mandatory parents meeting with the coach. At this meeting, they were informed that no team members were allowed to miss any team practices, unless they were hospitalized. When the parents explained their situation to the coach, they were told that there were no exceptions and that there daughter would be removed from the team if she went on the cruise. The parents went to the school athletic director and eventually to the district superintendent and were told they had to abide by the coach’s rules or their daughter would not be able to remain on the squad. Their daughter ended up transferring to another school which had a coach who was “much more reasonable” and allowed their daughter to go on the cruise and be an alternate on the squad. So what would you do? What is more important? For me it has always been family. However, when your child makes a team, it is important to become aware of any potential conflicts, personal, religious or academic and discuss them with the coach. Most coaches are understanding, as they have families as well. But, if you have a coach who is not willing to work with you, you might want to reconsider whether the potential conflicts are worth remaining on the team. In the end, no matter what, it still is a game.

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