Should youth sports take a backseat during the holidays?

By Jon Buzby | Posted 11/20/2018

One holiday weekend is on the doorstep and the next season is just around the corner — if you don’t believe me, check out the local mall — and no matter how competitive a league your child plays in, the question of whether or not to practice during the holiday seasons always comes up.

I’m not suggesting it’s OK for the coach to schedule a practice Thanksgiving day or Christmas Eve morning, but I’ve found through the years as a coach and a parent that many families are more than happy to have somewhere to take their kids during a holiday break.

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With that thought in mind, my philosophy as a parent is plans with our immediate and extended families take precedence over everything else during the four days of the Thanksgiving holiday. But for us, it extends into the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s Day as well.

This Thanksgiving, our 11-year-old’s soccer team has a one-day tournament and we opted out of it because it conflicted with a family gathering. We made it clear to the head coach as soon as it was scheduled that he wouldn’t be there, which is also important, so the team can plan accordingly because he’s the starting goalkeeper. The coach understood completely and, fortunately, so did our player. The fact our son didn’t argue the decision was a signal to me that he has bought into — or at least realizes it’s the way it’s going to be even if he doesn’t like it — the concept that during the holiday’s youth sports takes a backseat in our family.

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Once families do commit to attending a holiday tournament, they should do everything they can to attend. For practices held over a holiday, it’s not quite as big of a deal if at the last minute you let the coach know you can’t make it due to a family gathering. But it is important to let the coach know because if enough kids aren’t going to make it, they might decide to cancel.

The hustle and bustle of any holiday season is stressful enough. Do yourself a favor and eliminate one stress by planning for how you’ll handle any youth sports activities that may or may not conflict with holiday plans. Let the coaches and your kids know the plan, that way when it is time to execute it there won’t be any hurt feelings.

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Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years, originally as a coach and board member with his now-adult son and most recently "just as a dad" with his 9- and 11-year-old sons. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.