Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Mon 20 Aug 07 14:26
I have done a ton of radio apearances, some TV, some print and online interviews and I've done a bit of speaking to parents' groups at schools and coaches' associations. Since my book came out in late spring, it was to late in the year for many schools to book me then, so a bunch have booked me for the fall. I've tracked discussion of my book in the blogosphere, too, especialy on parenting and health blogs. The reception has been warm. poeple seem hungry for this mesage. I get emails sent to my website -- www.revolutioninthebleachers.com -- that are really heartfelt from parents struggling with these issues. Many tell me my book reaffrimed their gut feeling that things were out of whack and gave them strength -- and ammunition!-- to resist some parental peer pressure.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Mon 20 Aug 07 15:59
What is this doing to kids' development, particularly girls? I'd heard of girls into gymnastics and ballet who have delayed onset puberty because of how much they practice. A lot of my daughter's friends (she's 7) are in youth soccer and I feel bad that she can't be in it, but it's complicated because her dad and I are divorced and I don't want to schedule stuff on his time. It's also very insular; you have to register for the fall in spring and it's not always easy to find the registration. At the same time, she's naturally athletic and I think she'd enjoy it. On the other hand, I took her out of gymnastics because, just as she was about to move up to level 2, a bunch of new kids came in and they went back to the very, very beginning and she was doing stuff that she'd been doing for 2 and 3 years. She's disappointed, but I'm not sure of the point of paying $600 a year plus time and gas for her not to be progressing. I brought it up to the director of the program, and she said, well, it's the level 1 class and it's the one people start out with. And I can understand that, but when she was in first grade, if a new kid joined the class, they wouldn't all move back to learning the ABCs.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Mon 20 Aug 07 17:04
Great question, I know lots of girls that have delayed puberty because of their sports.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Mon 20 Aug 07 17:37
>I'd heard Actually, there's a book called Off Balance that's all about it, and while I have Joan Ryan's book, I haven't read it, though I expect it's covered in there. Which reminds me of another question -- how much does the Chronicle support its reporters going out and doing books? How does that work?
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Mon 20 Aug 07 18:12
re girls and sports: overall, it's a great thing. It's great for buiklding self-seteem and healthy body-consciousness. Excessive training and low bodyfat can combine to delay grils' puberty, and that does happen to a lot of gymnasts in particular. That is covered in Joan Ryan's book, "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes," which I quote from -- if fact precisely that part -- in my book. re your daughter, Sharon: I totally understand why you didn't see the value in her staying in gymnastics if she was going back to sqaure one. But if she's naturally athletic and enjoys doing some kind of sport, sounds as if it would be worth it to try to come to a shared decision about it with your ex. Rec soccer is not a big commitment -- usually one practice a week and one soccer game on Saturday for a relatively short fall season, Sept. till mid-Nov. or maybe you could find a different gymanstics program that would fit her level better. But don't give up! Try to find something that fits your family and can give her a healthy outlet for exercise while she's still figuring out what she likes.
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Mon 20 Aug 07 18:15
re Chronicel staffers who write books -- it's been different for different people through the years. In general they're supporive and enjoy the good promotion for the paper. But as things have gotten tougher financially at the paper and in the industry, they've stopped letting people take leaves to write books. I didn't take one. I just wrote my book on weeknights after work and on weekends. I took a couple of my regular vacation weeks off toward the end to make sure I met my deadline.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 21 Aug 07 05:54
The other problem with soccer is that last spring, she was being babysat by some friends with a girl her age (her friend too; they're in Brownies together) and the girl is in soccer so they took Maggie and the coach let her play, which I thought was really cool of them. The problem is, the team had been working together for a while and they didn't know her, so, as she said, 'nobody cheered for me and nobody even gave me a chance to play,' so she's pretty turned off of soccer. I expressed that it was disappointing that at 7 she was giving up on something completely due to one bad experience, but I dunno. Her dad and I just swapped nights so I'm looking into the availability of gymnastics classes on the new nights.
put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Tue 21 Aug 07 07:16
I saw phase one of the revolution happen on Sunday. We finished three days of tryouts for the Oakland Pee Wee hockey team. Two of Ethan's friends, not formerly Oakland players, but ones they'd been trying to recruit from Berkeley for around 3 years because of how gifted they are turned them down flat. Seems Oakland has a much different gung-ho win win win culture than the Berkeley* team and they told his parents they'd have to commit to 4-6 tourneys a year with extensive out of state travel -- including tourneys on ALL the major holidays. Doesn't work for our families they told the hyper Oakland coaches. We'll play elsewhere. The Berkeley players are all going to go over to the San Francisco team en masse -- a much more laid back program. competitive, but stressing fun and teamwork and team-fellowship. Berkeley was shut down by the city after 60 years this spring, leaving a whole tribe of kids who'd been playing together for years, homeless.
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Tue 21 Aug 07 07:42
Given all this time and money people are spending, why not just start new leagues that are more about playing and less about winning?
Lisa Harris (lrph) Tue 21 Aug 07 08:26
We have something like that here. But you have to have a coach/business person/teacher/parent willing to take on the responsibility of starting a league. It's a lot of work and commitment. The thing we have here is actually a summer program run by a middle school PE teacher. He teaches basics and sportsmanship in an array of different sport camps throughout the summer and during school holidays. It's really wonderful, but not year round, because of his teaching schedule.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 21 Aug 07 13:16
#107: oh, another heartbreaking thing about that conversation -- her telling me that she'll never be any good at it because the other kids have all been playing so much longer. At 7.
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Tue 21 Aug 07 19:44
I hear that kind of thing often: That parents -- or a kid -- will think a decision about a team taht they make when the kid is 7 or 8 or 10 will mark them for life. But it's just not true. As I said before, puberty cahnges everything, and the cream rises to the top. So if your child is gifted athletically, they'll probably be good at whatever they try whenever they get into it. If your kid is an average athlete, she'll probably be an average athlete at whatever she tries, but she may come to love a sport that's fun for her. Kids kids who start early may have more training than kids who come into a sport later, but when they enter is not the determining factor. Puberty might be. Or their natural ability might be. The Golden State Warriors basketball team had a player who who hadn't picked up a basketball till 10th grade. It happens! Your 7-year-old, as you said, was discourged by one bad experience. A year from now she may have a good team sport experience and be begging you to sign her up. There's plenty of time!!!
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Tue 21 Aug 07 21:00
re starting new leagues: I've heard from people who have done that. One of the women in my book, Marin County psychotherapist and author Madeline Levine ("Theh Price of Privilege") did that when she became dissatisfied with her son's hypercompetitive elite soccer team. She joined other parents who jumped ship and together they switched gears entirely, starting a lacrosse league! And her son went on to play Lacrosse on his high school team. So it all worked out well. Sometimes it's good to vote with your feet, as they say. That's what those Berkeley kids did when they marched over to San Francisco to play on a hockey team that was more in tune with what they were comfortable with. It can be hard work finding the right team or league, or the right coach for your kid, but it's worth it rather than staying in a situation that's frustrating or against your value system or lifestyle or whatever. It can be hard work being a sports parent!
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Tue 21 Aug 07 21:56
I've spent an unusual amount of time in the past year with college freshman in a peer-level situation. I'd lay folding money that lacrosse is the next soccer in terms of high-profile, high-expense, high-pressure team sports for junior high and high school students. It's amazing how hard they have to work to stay competitive and how much of their college time training and games can consume.
put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Wed 22 Aug 07 06:27
Ethan just got asked to play on the San Francisco Sabercats. It was so refreshing. One of the other parents asked the coach about tournaments and the he said, well probably a couple over the course of the year. We let the parents tell us how many they want to commit to and if we have enough buy in, we'll go. It's up to you guys collectively to tell us what you want to do. w.o.w. refreshing. Four of Ethan's friends from the Berkeley team have all also come to the SF team. We all went out for dinner afterwards and it was just so fine to watch the 5 boys having so much fun together at teh table we put them at far away across the room (five pre-teen boys who've just been skating hard for 90 minutes are pretty ripe, let me tell you. I am so relieved as the Oakland team culture was such a nightmare. Straight out of the worst case scenarios from your book, Regan with tight-lipped grim parents pacing behind the glass and growing orders at their kids to try harder and "stop doggin it" So unfriendly and over-amped for a bunch of 1 and 12 year olds. I think the head coach thinks he's Herb Brooks and the Oakland Pee Wees are the 1980 miracle team. har.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 22 Aug 07 10:36
What a fascinating conversation this has been, the past two weeks have sped by so fast! I want to thank you for joining us, Regan, it's been great to have you here. And thank you, Bill, for your important role in leading the discussion. Though you've reached the two-week committment, please know that you're welcome to continue here if you can. This topic will remain open and available for further conversation indefinitely. If you have other things demanding your attention, then I offer my thanks for sharing so much of your time and expertise with us, Regan and Bill.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 22 Aug 07 11:50
I love all the true tales from the trenches too. Great discussion all around.
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Wed 22 Aug 07 14:06
Thanks, everyone, for making me feel so WELLcome.
Lisa Everitt (lisa) Thu 23 Aug 07 08:43
Thank YOU for writing such a great, and sane, book. Best of luck to you.
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