If your evening and weekend hours are largely spent schlepping your kids and all their sports gear to far-flung locations, one mom is with you, lamenting the loss of rec sports. TikTok mom Alli is so over the ultra-competitive nature of travel sports, arguing that it eliminates fun and free time for kids who just want to spend some time playing with their pals.
“Bring back rec sports,” she captioned the post. “Sports for kids should be available to all.” In the clip, Alli explained that when she was growing up, she loved soccer. And even if she wasn’t the team’s star player, she enjoyed just getting to play and to see her friends. But these days, kids get such precious free time to play, and youth sports are just exacerbating this unsustainable go-go-go vibe for so many little ones out there.
“I loved soccer, and I loved my friends on the team. And I literally, one of my best friends to this day is somebody that I met playing soccer when I was in fifth grade. School now is not even really the place where you make your true substantial friends anymore because these kids are just constantly like, there’s no fun time anymore,” she said.
“There’s like a 15, 20-minute recess lunch,” she continued. “They’re shoveling food in the 20 minutes that they have to eat. So they’re really not even like getting to do anything with each other, and then class is class.”
Alli explained that her son plays town baseball, which should be, in theory, a pretty chill situation. “The parents can be crazy. The coaches can be crazy. The tryouts are insane. Sports are what everyone used to say is what keeps kids out of trouble, and it keeps kids on the right path, and we need sports. Yet all we’ve done is take them away from kids, and we’ve taken the opportunity for sports away from kids,” she said.
She also highlighted how increasingly cost-prohibitive sports can be for parents, making them inaccessible to so many kids. “The financial commitment for my mom to have me play soccer was a pair of $15 shinpads, a pair of $30 cleats, and the $40 registration fee for me to play for the whole season. Now a single season of rec league baseball is $120. And I’m not stupid, I get it, that goes to the refs and all of that. But it just has changed drastically,” she said.
Kids are also incentivized to “specialize” in one sport from an early age, even though many might just want to try a few different things and see what they actually enjoy doing. “When I was a kid, you played a different sport every season. Now kids have no choice but to specialize in one singular sport way early on. And there’s actually humongous studies talking about how this isn’t even good for their growth and their development and their bodies. That’s a whole other thing. If your kid plays hockey, he’s gonna play from August until around March, April. There’s no time for other sports. And if there is, they have to fit it in and then it becomes just a craziness,” she said.
Alli is in favor of keeping travel sports available for kids who want to be a part of them, but her underlying message is simply to let kids do what they want to do.
“Let the kids that play travel who excel at sports keep playing travel. Let them play club ball. Let them play club hockey. No one is asking those kids to change anything. But we are asking for an opportunity for the kids who just want to play to have fun and meet friends to be able to do that again,” she said.
Plenty of fellow parents in the comments section agreed with Alli’s points, noting that extracurriculars should be fun without all the pressure and restrictions that are already placed on kids at school. Truly relatable, indeed. Let kids be kids, please! They’ll never get that time back and they deserve better.