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Dear Thursday: Baby’s First Sport

This is a cross post with Deep Into Sports

Photo by Chris Darling
Montage by Chris Darling

Now here’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as an expectant mother: should I enroll my child in a sport, and if so, how should I go about it?

I still remember my first trip to the YMCA when I was seven-years-old. My mother took my sister Liz and me on an informal tour around the premises. And we observed the classes that they offered there every Saturday morning for kids: Swimming, T-Ball, Gymnastics, Racquetball, and Karate. She told us that we could choose whatever class that we wanted, and it seemed like a great treat.

I chose swimming. And my sister chose swimming, because I chose swimming and she was in the habit of copying me exactly when we were children.

Liz really took to swimming and is still quite a good swimmer today. I thought swimming was fun, but eventually went on to try gymnastics, which I really loved. Though I did give both racquetball and karate a chance before fully committing to gymnastics for the next five years of Saturdays. I was no Mary Lou Retton, but I was a physically fit kid, which is something you can’t take for granted these days. And this makes me want to give my unborn daughter the same chance I was given to take an interest in sports.

I don’t think YMCAs offer the same variety of sports these days, so I’m not sure how to go about getting my daughter interested in sports. Should I do as my mother did and take her around to a bunch of different sports, even if they’re in different facilities? Also, should I encourage her towards a team sport, so that she learns how to get along with others and stay physically fit at a young age? One of the reasons that I’m a writer is because I like not having to work with a bunch of other people to get things done. However, my husband, was enrolled in AYSO soccer as a first sport and he’s one of the best team players that I know of.

So I guess my question is which approach is best? Should I let my daughter choose her own sport from the get-go or enroll her in a team sport that will also teach her how to get along with others? Advice very welcome in the comments.