“Hey, Check That Kid’s Birth Certificate!”
This past weekend, I witnessed a U13 soccer player who resembled the likes of Ivan Drago, the over developed Russan foe from Rocky IV. When faced with an opponent with greater strength, size, and speed, it’s human nature to wonder if the athlete is truly as old as they claim? The reality is, you wished the individual in question played on your team.
As far back as there have been organized sports, there have always been kids who happen to be bigger than the majority of the kids their age. It’s not their fault they’re ginormous. 99.9% of the time they are the age they claim and parents of average sized kids need to accept the anomalies. Does it stink that one player can change the course of a game? Yes, however, it’s up to the opposing teams to work together to negate the advantage one player has on the competition. There are chinks in the armor, you must rely on your mechanics and team strategy to overcome the obstacle. Sometimes, all it takes is one shot and Goliath can come tumbling down.
Where there seems to be a problem in youth sports is when a game’s strategy is taught, especially at the younger levels, that revolves completely around El Gigante. Are the other teammates merely supporting cast members? What happens if El Gigante gets injured or can’t be there, will the team have the foundations and understanding of the game to compete? As a parent, one must ask the question, do I want my child to win at all costs OR do i want them to be taught the finer details of a sport that will help their child improve as well? For some families, it’s ok to be a supporting cast member for others, they’d rather focus on fully developing their skills as well. There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, it all comes down to what’s the best fit for the player and family (See previous article around selecting the right team for you).
In summary, whether it’s on a field or in a board room, kids and adults are going to be faced with El Gigante. The important thing to hit home is not to pack up shop and go home, but to rely on what you’ve been taught, play hard, and see where they chips fall.