I’ll be the first to admit this one is a little hurried into place this week — busy week. I’ll have something great up 2 weeks from today.
Work, it’s what we’re here for…
It was a day or two after my 15th birthday. My father had scheduled an appointment for me to meet with Paul Weiner, owner of the Bagel Deli in Denver, CO. Dressed in a shirt and tie, I was told to get on my bicycle, ride about a mile and a half up the road, and apply for a job as a dishwasher, which I did. The following day, Mr. Weiner called me, and offered me the job. I began working later that week.
Within a few weeks I was elevated from dishwasher to sandwich maker. That job, making sandwiches that little Jewish deli in a very un-Jewy part of town, remains one of the best jobs I have ever had. It was also provided me with some of the most formative experiences of my lifetime.
Though I was also on the diving team of my local swim and tennis club, the lessons I learned working my part-time job would pay greater dividends over a longer period of time than any lessons I learned while on the diving team.
Do you want fries with that…
If you think about it, the question of do you want fries with that is often asked to student athletes as their parents thread them through the drive-through on their way to their next practice after school. It wasn’t that long ago that the very same athlete might have been the one on the other side of the window asking that same question.
I have had several discussions recently about the value of youth sports. In particular, the lessons young people learn from participating in team sports. I don’t disagree that there are lessons to be learned from participating in team sports, many of those lessons valuable. Teamwork, listening, and adaptation are chief among those lessons learned. I question though, whether those young people are even tuned into those lessons.
I’ll suggest that youth sports might not be the best learning ground for such lessons. After all, in the land of youth sports, what is really on the line if one fails to pay attention or perform in accordance with coaching or parental expectations…? Perhaps the athlete will sit on the bench. Here’s a thought; some kids actually prefer to sit on the bench. There is little at stake when kids tune out during team sports.
Here’s another thought; all teens want money.
Where have all the workers gone…
Thirty years ago one could walk into nearly any retail shop, restaurant, or grocery store in this country, and there would be a good chance they would be face to face with a high school student who was also working part-time. This is just my opinion, but it seems to me fewer teenagers fill those same jobs today.
This is not my opinion: Despite that I have helped many teenage athletes with their strength and conditioning in support of their extracurricular sports through the years, I can count on one hand the number of those students who have also had part-time jobs.
Due to the increased participation in sports, both high school sports and club sports, many teens today have no time to participate in jobs. I think this is a gross omission on the part of the parents. Often times the parents justify their heavy emphasis on team sports by suggesting these sports are their child’s ticket into college, and thus offer greater potential dividends for their child.
I did the math on that with one parent a couple of years ago. When she and I added up the monthly dues for four years of multiple year-round club sports, uniforms, meals on the road, travel expenses (often out of town and out of state), one child cost her nearly $11,000 over a 4-year span, and she has 2 children involved in sports. An associate’s degree at a local community college would have cost much less.
In the case of her two children, both will go to a four year college on full athletic scholarships, so the investment of all those hours paid off. It will remain forever unknown though, what might have been lost by turning 22 years old and having never had a job.
What gets lost…
Most teenagers who forsake the workplace for an overloaded athletic schedule will not receive athletic scholarships. Nor will they receive many of the valuable lessons which can be learned in the workplace.
I understand, and respect the value of participating in team sports, and the lessons learned. There are even more important lessons though, to be learned when teens go to work after school rather than to practice or to the game. There can also be much more riding on those lessons – a paycheck. Of course, that’s only for kids whose parents teach them the value of money, and THAT is an essay for another day.
For more of my thoughts on this from a couple of years back, please click here.
I’ll be back in two weeks to share more of what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from, Can. Enjoy…