When School and Sports Collide!

boys playing basketballOrdinarily, there’s no question: school trumps sports, whether it’s college or earlier in my son’s academic career. He’s in sixth grade, so we’ve got a while to go before we have to worry about NCAA regulations.

Which is why it’s so darn frustrating that we find ourselves in the scheduling remake of When Worlds Collide: the collision of the last basketball game and the evening performance of my son’s school play.

The game is the last one of their season and was scheduled to be 5-6pm, with the play starting at 7pm at school, about a 20 minute drive from the gym. The coach recognized the problem — as every single boy in my son’s class is also on the basketball team — so he managed to have the game switch to start at 4pm, meaning that they’re done at 5pm and don’t have to step into the play until 7pm.

For her part, the class teacher has no sympathy and no interest in the game and made it very clear to us parents that the play will be at its standard time, no later starts, no reschedule. The boy should all skip the game so that they’re not too tired for the play, whether it starts at 5pm or 4pm. The play is more important.

On the surface, the solution is obvious: skip the game, send the clear message that school is always more important than sports. Except then there’s that commitment thing. By joining a basketball league I believe my son made a commitment to both his teammates and the league that he’d do his very best to attend every practice and play every game with enthusiasm.

So what’s a Dad to do? My druthers is to have him play in the game from 4-5pm on the day of the tournament, then take him to get the best, healthiest dinner possible, followed by taking him to school where he preps and performs in the play. I think he’ll rise to the occasion and do fine. And if not, well, then I’ll perhaps find myself in the position of explaining why commitment to a team is also important as a lesson to model.

What would you do, fellow parent and reader?

4 comments on “When School and Sports Collide!

  1. What are your goals for your child?
    Evaluate each activity and see if it contributes to those goals
    Is there something you could do that would better meet the goals?
    Is he in too many activities? If so, which one(s) go?

    I chose to have sports only be non-organized for my children. They played pick-up soccer games with their friends in fields and back yards. Basketball in driveways and parks.

    Also, some activities they only did one round. I signed them up for an 8 week gymnastics class. They didn’t like it, so after the 8 weeks I did not sign up for another round.

  2. There is no reason a healthy 6th grader can’t play in a basketball game and perform in a play. Even if they play the whole game, which is unlikely if there are more than 5 players on the team, a game only takes an hour with around half of that being playing time. My 7th grade daughter played in a basketball tournament over the weekend. She had 4 games, went to church, watched her brother’s game, played outside, did her homework, cleaned her room, and who knows what else! And she did not collapse from exhaustion.
    Honestly, I don’t understand why this is even an issue for the teacher. It was nice of the coach to get the game changed and it sounds to me like the teacher needs to get over herself, thank him and enjoy the play.

  3. I think your instincts are spot-on. And I think the coach did a very, very good thing by recognizing and responding to the fact that he has kids on his team who want to uphold both commitments.

    Good luck!

  4. Wow…that teacher is on a power trip. Once a event is scheduled outside of school hours, the teacher loses any authority to mandate attendance at anything. Basketball game or not, this teacher needs to understand that she can’t make anyone do anything. Luckily the basketball coach is a reasonable person. The only people really hurt in situations like this are the kids, who have no control or power!

    That said, life is about making tough choices. Discuss the options and consequences with the kid and let them choose for themselves. (Then be supportive of the decision.)

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