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Elise's Fitness Fun

Spectator/Naive Parent

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by , April 18th, 2009 at 10:38 PM (1192 Views)
Well, took my son to the PowerKids Duathlon today. He won the 10 year old boys division. The race was a 1/2 mile run, 2 mile bike, and 1/4 mile run. I felt kind of bad for him on the bike because mom naively assumed that all the kids his age would be on mountain bike type bikes. I was surprised at the number of sophisticated racing bikes some kids 10 and under had. A girl that had a nice-looking racing bike won the 10 and under division overall and looked like a mini-pro on her bike. My son hung in there the best he could and averaged about 16 mph on the mountain bike which I think is pretty good for a 10 year old kid. Still, I felt bad for him trying to keep up with the kids on the road bikes. Without me saying a word, he is smart enough to know the difference between the two types of bikes and the advantage of a road bike.

I'm not sure what to do next time. On the one hand, I want my child to feel like he has a level playing field when he competes. Should I be willing to shell out several hundred dollars for a road bike that he may only use once or twice and may outgrow next year? I really wanted to wait until he was 14 or 15 and had grown before buying him a true road bike. At least he'd get some mileage out of it.

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Updated April 19th, 2009 at 01:09 AM by elise526

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  1. The Fortress's Avatar
    I wouldn't get a fancy road bike now. Let him enjoy and get used to racing. My son got crushed in the bike leg of his first triathlon at 14. He enjoyed picking people off in the 10K run. They know what's going on with the equipment disparity. When he's older and more serious, get the road bike. 10 is kinda young. Would you get a 10 year old a LZR? Ignore crazy parents out there!
  2. qbrain's Avatar
    Yeah, don't be a crazy parent, be a smart parent. Borrow a bike if you can, or check craigslist periodically and see if there is a road bike his size dirt cheap. When he out grows it, put it back on craigslist dirt cheap and you should just be out the time it took to find it. Even better, make your son do the leg work. Kids are born knowing how to use the internet now.

    When he is older and has stopped growing, are you going to buy him the top of the line carbon fiber bike, or is he going to have to start with a steel road bike? There will always be an equipment discrepancy until he has a nice sponsorship, and his training will benefit from the forced disadvantage, so no reason to put too much effort into equalizing the equipment for him.
  3. Bobinator's Avatar
    I must be a doting parent. I always enjoyed getting my kids good equipment for their various sports. Now they didn't always have the fanciest clothes, house, or vacations but in the sports arena we were decked out pretty well.
    I think you should do what ever you think is right for your budget, lifestyle, and goals for your child.
    I would much rather shell out for active sports equipment than video game stuff, cable tv subscriptions, or anything sedentary. I guess that's the PE/Health teacher coming out in me!
  4. jim thornton's Avatar
    Equalize the playing field another way. When Little Lordette Fauntleroi and her mother aren't looking, let the air out of her tires. As a competitive Southern Woman, surely you have thought of that. I thought your Moms down there murdered cheerleaders and such?

    I think that organized sports for this age are the ruination of American childhood. Whatever happened to kids making up their own games, playing by their own rules, all outside the controlled meddling of their vicariously competitive parents?

    Note: Elise, I do not mean to implicate you here in this, but I do think buying kids hyper expensive bikes, or spending thousands on tennis coaches, or what have you is not doing anybody any good.

    I did an article once of the dangers of vicarious sports parents and this doctor told me about a particularly egregious case. These parents brought in their 13 year old daughter, who was a good but not elite gymnast. The parents had read about this world class gymnast who had gotten hurt, underwent complex knee surgery, and eventually came back to perform even better than she had pre injury.

    The parents asked the doctor if they would give their daughter the same surgery, never mind the fact that the girl had no injury at all.

    I know it's hard not to live vicariously through our kids, and I think the trend towards having fewer kids causes parents today to focus all their attention on a smaller number of offspring. But this kind of stuff just makes me cringe.

    Why even have duathlons for 10 year olds? Surely there's got to be some age before the tyranny of organized sports does not completely overtake the fun of disorganized active playing around without parental and official control?
  5. Bobinator's Avatar
    I totally agree kids need to learn how to "play " before ever engaging in competitive athletics. In fact I tell my kids at school that competition is an agreement between the competitors to play fair, and be happy after the game no matter what the outcome is. Some kids cannot deal with getting beat(not being first) and they should not compete. (they won't have fun)
    If the child wants to compete (be on a team, race, whatever) I think it's fine. If the parents cajooled,bribed, or forced the kid to compete then it is total bogus!
    As i already stated I would much rather send my hard earned money on things that help my ACTIVE kids pursue their active desires. I have never spent a penny on any video games, cable tv, or really anything sedentary. I really didn't buy sports equipment to "make my kids better or faster", I used it to motivate them to stay active. It worked too....I have 1 offspring who is a professional athlete and gets all his stuff free + a little bit of money too! (now that's what I call sweet)
  6. elise526's Avatar
    These comments are great! Fort - I am realy glad you commented as I know your son is involved in multi-sport races. I'm sure you have had to deal with this issue more than once!

    qbrain - I like your idea of buying something used. It may be a couple of years before I buy a road bike for him, but I like that route.

    Bobinator - You are right! I'd much rather spend $300 or $400 on sports equipment to encourage my child to be active rather than spend it on video games. We don't have a wii in this house. I will buy a nice used road bike per qbrain's suggestion long before I get a wii or even a cell phone for my kid.

    Jim - Haha. I'm surprised I have not heard of a parent letting the air out of another kid's tires. Let's hope not!!

    When you have an extremely active kid that loves to compete but who does not enjoy team sports, swimming and duathlons are nice alternatives. Granted, I did see some parents with kids that looked like they might have gotten a little carried away. They had their kids dressed in customized racing attire - jerseys and biking shorts, and had purchased nice road bikes for them. It was apparent from watching a couple of the kids on road bikes that they had been trained pretty seriously. My husband pointed out to me that maybe the kids want to have a road bike and be seriously trained. If the kids want to do it and are not getting hurt, then why not? It sure is better than them sitting around playing Zelda all day long and eating Little Debbie Snacks while doing so.

    My son did this race a couple of years ago. I actually did not want him to do it, but he saw an ad the week before the race, and really wanted to do it. When he finished third in his age-group in the race, he said next time he wanted to practice at least 2 months before racing.

    He didn't do it last year because he got sick the week before. This year, he started talking about it 6 months ago and started asking when we were going to get ready for it. I waited until about 6 or 7 weeks before the race to help him get ready for it. I worked with him a couple of times a week and we had lots of fun doing it together.


    I think kids are pushed too hard these days, but at the same time, I also think it is nice that kids have so many options from which to chose.

    Bobinator - That is pretty cool about your child being a pro! What sport?
    Updated April 19th, 2009 at 09:09 PM by elise526
  7. jim thornton's Avatar
    Elise, which may not be the right name, but anyhow, I saw your bronze medal winner on Facebook. Extremely cute youngster! Sorry, if I came off at all moralizing. I got in trouble when my son was about your son's age and he and his friends were giving me a hard time at K-Mart across the river from where we lived, and I told them they could walk home, figuring it would get them to behave a bit more. It didn't. They begged me to let the walk home. God help me, but I did--drove down the road, then tried to circle back, ran out of gas, and by the time i had reloaded, they'd disappeared.

    The mothers were not pleased with me, oh no!

    And the Moon Township police department has never officially notified me that I am no longer being investigated, though I am pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired for whatever I allegedly did or failed to do.

    The boys, by the way, are all thriving and have a fine story to tell about what the police called "that guy named 'Jim' who, what? met your mother in a bar?"
  8. The Fortress's Avatar
    Craigs List is a great idea. My hubby is considering purchasing a road bike, and a Pro directed him to a particular bike on Craigs List. You can find top quality equipment there in all price ranges.

    Even if a kid likes individual sports, if they start too much too soon too young, burnout is a real concern. I cannot believe how many pushy psychotic parents I see on a daily basis. A mother this weekend was practically having a heart attack when her 7-8 year old daughter failed to make some saves when playing goalie. Yeesh, get a grip! Even without pushy parents, I see kids burned out by 14-15.

    I'm like Bob too. I've spent plenty on sports over the years. No video games in my house either.
  9. elise526's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    Elise, which may not be the right name, but anyhow, I saw your bronze medal winner on Facebook. Extremely cute youngster! Sorry, if I came off at all moralizing. I got in trouble when my son was about your son's age and he and his friends were giving me a hard time at K-Mart across the river from where we lived, and I told them they could walk home, figuring it would get them to behave a bit more. It didn't. They begged me to let the walk home. God help me, but I did--drove down the road, then tried to circle back, ran out of gas, and by the time i had reloaded, they'd disappeared.

    The mothers were not pleased with me, oh no!

    And the Moon Township police department has never officially notified me that I am no longer being investigated, though I am pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired for whatever I allegedly did or failed to do.

    The boys, by the way, are all thriving and have a fine story to tell about what the police called "that guy named 'Jim' who, what? met your mother in a bar?"
    Thanks, Jim! Don't apologize! You raise a very important point! I had a similar reaction when I saw an 8 year old girl dressed in customized racing attire on an expensive road bike. My husband scolded me when I commented that she would probably be burned out by the time she was 13.

    By the way, my husband thoroughly enjoys reading your posts and comments.

    Don't know if you have ever watched Desperate Housewives, but you pulled a Lynette. She dropped her boys off when they were being bad. Fort and I may have to special order that episode for you.
  10. elise526's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress
    Craigs List is a great idea. My hubby is considering purchasing a road bike, and a Pro directed him to a particular bike on Craigs List. You can find top quality equipment there in all price ranges.

    Even if a kid likes individual sports, if they start too much too soon too young, burnout is a real concern. I cannot believe how many pushy psychotic parents I see on a daily basis. A mother this weekend was practically having a heart attack when her 7-8 year old daughter failed to make some saves when playing goalie. Yeesh, get a grip! Even without pushy parents, I see kids burned out by 14-15.

    I'm like Bob too. I've spent plenty on sports over the years. No video games in my house either.
    I definitely think the burnout is a real issue, especially for boys. I think the psychotic parent thing may be even worse in group sports than in individual sports.

    Jim - You should see the competitive spirit of Southern women when their sons are on the football field. Scary!!
  11. Bobinator's Avatar
    Well, he's not a child anymore...he's 21. He is a pro skateboarder. It is not what I would have ever picked but he took it up shortly after his dad and I divorced. He pretty much did all the mainstream sports (basketball, swimming, football, and soccer) but he always took his skateboard to other sport practices and practiced it until I picked him up. I don't know how long his gig will last but he's having fun and making enough money to live(as long as he doesn't mind living with 4 other guys.
  12. elise526's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobinator
    Well, he's not a child anymore...he's 21. He is a pro skateboarder. It is not what I would have ever picked but he took it up shortly after his dad and I divorced. He pretty much did all the mainstream sports (basketball, swimming, football, and soccer) but he always took his skateboard to other sport practices and practiced it until I picked him up. I don't know how long his gig will last but he's having fun and making enough money to live(as long as he doesn't mind living with 4 other guys.
    That is awesome! How many 21 year olds can say that they are making enough money to live on and are having fun doing it?! You've done well!