Regarding Jack Turner's "Pay to Play" (Herald, March 22), once upon a time, kids took a ball outside and played. Then there was adult-supervised kids soccer.
Soon, all the kids got together and said, "Hey, we need to take this to the next level. Let's have a 'traveling team.' And we can have shiny shorts and jerseys." When too many kids wanted to be on 'traveling teams,' some kids got together and said, "'Traveling teams' aren't getting us to the next level, we need an 'elite team' with shinier shorts and jerseys."
But when some of the kids on the "elite team" got upset about being called elitists, they decided to call it the "select team" - they knew no one would call them selectists.
Parents could have said, "Hey, you kids go outside, find a sandlot and play without adult supervision. You'll learn more about sports and life."
But they shelled out for the shiny shorts instead.
Take a minute some day to watch the kids in the skateboard park. There is a lot of passion, joy, maybe some pain and no adults. Then ask yourself why (when school is out) the ballfields, soccer fields and basketball courts aren't filled with the same passion, joy and knee scrapes. Ask yourself what kids are losing when they do not get to resolve play problems on their own.
"You were out." "Safe by a mile." "Out." "Safe." "Out."
Turner's son may be a victim, but he was not victimized by the high school soccer coach. He was victimized by the youth sports Zeitgeist - that spirit of the time that makes what a parent has or who a parent knows as important (sometimes more important) to a young athlete's success as the athlete's ability.
To actually get youth sports to the next level, we will need to send the kids back 50 years, or send them to an inner-city basketball court or a third-world soccer pitch.
Get them where games can get kids away from adults for a while.
Kevin Devine, Durango