Thursday, September 07, 2006

Victory will be had

This is an email I just sent to the principal of my daughter's middle school. Jasmine called me this morning to tell me that she did not make the field hockey team. She was disapointed, and so was I. The school sports are so competitive. They only want kids who have been playing the sports since toddler-hood. It's frustrating. Anyway, this one is much nicer than the original letter which simply stated -"Yo bitch! Stop dissin' my kid or I'll get my deuce-deuce and pop a cap in yo ass!"

Dear Principal,

I’m writing to you to discuss the team sport situation. My daughter, Jasmine is in 7th grade at your school. Just this week she tried out for girls Field Hockey. Much to her disappointment, and ours, she did not make the team. I understand that many kids try out for team sports at your school and not everyone can make the teams. My question is – Why not? It seems that the selection of athletes made for these sports are just that, competitive athletes. The teams are comprised of kids who have been playing organized sports for most of their childhood and are geared the best for winning. Where does that leave all the other students who’s skill levels are lower, but whose drive to be involved is just as great?

Jasmine informed me that any girl on the team in 6th grade automatically became a member of the team this year. While this seems like a great way to insure a winning team, it also just completely obliterated the other girls’ hopes of playing field hockey in the future. What chance does an 8th grade girl stand when trying out, knowing that the last two years worth of players are guaranteed a place on the team? The only thing this kind of approach guarantees for my daughter is that she won’t be playing field hockey at all in high school.

We all know that winning is the major focus of any sport. This edict is contradictory to the attitudes we try to foster in our kids. We tell our kids to get involved. We tell our kids to get off the couch and get moving. We tell them to have passion about things beyond themselves. And yet when they really try, they’re met with rejection because they have not been rehearsing these roles since pre-school. Field Hockey is not the only club that my daughter has tried out for. Basketball, Drama, and Show Choir also held similar fates for her. Faced with the challenge of trying out with kids who have been dribbling, singing, and acting since childhood, she didn’t stand much of a chance.

There were a few bright spots. Basketball had a “B” team of sorts. A team for kids who weren’t good enough to represent their school, but still wanted to play. The kids played in school clothes and street shoes and had fun. She also made a similar team for track. She was allowed to compete only at home meets, and in a category where the coach didn’t have a top notch player. She was not the fastest runner there. In one instance, she was even the slowest. But you what? That’s ok. She tried so hard. She made an effort, got involved and did her best. I can still picture the look on her face when she was finishing a grueling lap that she knew she had not won. She was utterly defeated. Then she heard our voices. Me, screaming like a maniac, telling her she could do it. Her friends cheering her name and clapping. Jasmine’s whole demeanor changed in that moment. She got that extra boost of pep and crossed the finish line. She’d lost the race, but won so much more.

The small chances that Jasmine has had to participate have really taught her a lot about herself. They have shown her the strength she has inside and what she can really accomplish when she tries. Those lessons are far more valuable than a winning pennant to hang in the gym. Please consider giving a chance to the motivated kids who want to be involved. You may not win any trophies, but victory will be had.




Blogger greekchickie said...

Be sure you don't send the wrong letter in the envelope! LOL I think I would have sent the 1st one, just for fun.


11:01 AM  
Anonymous cindy said...

Good Job!
I remember these days all to well.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous oz said...

Great letter! I know that it's unlikely to have an affect, but I sure hope it does, because you are right and they are wrong!

6:07 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

No, it hasn't done anything. I heard from the principal already and she assured me that they don't chose kids based on who will make a winning team (uh huh). She said there is just not enough space, resources, for everyone to play team sports. She did, however, say she was going to forward it on to the man in charge of team sports to read. Maybe the next time they're setting up a budget, they'll consider this issue and make some jr. varsity teams. Or maybe they won't, what the hell do I know?

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Tam said...

They don't choose kids based on who will make a winning team?! What do they claim they choose them based on? Whose mother has the best booty? If they didn't choose based on who makes the most likely to win team perhaps they'd give the kids who didn't get to play last year a chance! F^%$#&* liars!!!!

6:12 PM  
Blogger Carolie said...

But...I don't understand why every child with an interest can't be part of the group?? Sure, maybe Jasmine won't be starting center, or the lead in the yearly musical, or a soloist with the show choir, at least this year. But with practice and experience, whose to say what she can't achieve?

Why can't every child with the interest sing/practice with the show choir? Be "Background Guard #3" for the school play? Practice with the field hockey team or the basketball team and do the drills? You certainly aren't insisting she be given the starring role--she just wants the chance to participate, learn and grow.

"Not enough resources" makes no sense, unless the interest in field hockey is so great that the bleachers won't hold all the girls, or they jam up the track when running their laps, or the school stage would break under the weight of so many children.

On our swim team, EVERYONE who wanted to could practice. Each swim meet, the best four or five for each event were chosen for that event. Surprisingly enough, with practice, many kids grew and strengthened, and the worst kid on the team often surprised everyone and became a serious contender by the end of the year.

It sounds to me as if all of those groups, even the drama and the show choir groups, are solely formed for competitions, and want to spend all their resources and time only on the students who they think have the best chance of winning--and they don't want those students "standing around" while the second string gets their chance at practicing or playing.

Sorry...didn't mean to hijack, but this made me MAD!

10:43 PM  
Blogger Carolie said...

Err..."who's to say" not "whose to say". Sorry!

10:44 PM  

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