This was prompted by two thangs: Bassmaster ROY Brandon Card’s recent column, and my ongoing love/hate with the current era of kids sports.
First an excerpt from Brandon’s post, which btw has nothing to do with this post other than the Gladwell stuff:
In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell reveals his findings from studying successful people and the factors that made them succeed. He describes what he calls the 10,000-hour rule. Basically, if you want to become successful at any endeavor in life, you need to spend at least 10,000 hours practicing it.
Welllllllll…okay. Let me take a look at the clouds and tea leaves here: Could be 5,000, could be 12,000, whatever. I’m not buyin’.
I mean, I am buyin’ that you spend a lot of hours doing anything, you get good at it (except, speaking for myself, being a spouse haha). But seriously: For me the question is WHY are you spending those 10,000 hours doing it?
Here’s where kids sports come in. Anyone with younger kids may have noticed that kids sports have become big biz. Yuge. What I call a “parental fleecing operation.” As in:
Dang, 2-year-old travel [insert sport here] and it’s only $1,000 a year?? Where do I sign up?!
I’m coaching my 8-year-old daughter’s soccer team, and in the materials the club handed out is this line:
70% of athletes drop out of sports programs by time they are 12 years old. The main reason for quitting is the fact that it is no longer fun or there is too much pressure placed on them by coaches and parents.
And…how many hours do they have when they drop out? Answer: Thousands – way more than kids like Michael Jordan and many other pro athletes had at their age.
The difference? Let’s use one of my son’s current idols, lax star Paul Rabil. This guy decided at 16 that lacrosse was his thing and he was going to be great at it. To that point he had zero hours in the game. Zero.
But he became a four-time All-American at D1 powerhouse Johns Hopkins, and now is probably the lone pro lacrosse player making 6 figures a year.
Does he have a gift for the game? Absolutely. A work ethic? Yep. But he also has the fire, and – here’s the key point – got it himself. No mommy and daddy waving a Gladwell book at him and counting reps.
So show me a young person who’s been coached to be a bass pro all his life and another who decided at around 16 THIS is what he/she wanted to do, and – assuming equal skills – I’ll put my money on the latter.