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Team sports versus team building debate splits household

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Lisa Suhay

(Read caption) In this undated photo, coaches and teammates from the Wize Guys Lego League competition team pose for a group shot in Norfolk, Va. (L. to r.: Coach Beau Turner, Ava Foy, Dylan Turner, Jack Shelton, James Wilson, Quin Suhay, Race Foy and Coach BC Wilson) Many non-sport team activities, like Lego League, help kids gain confidence, learn to work in groups, and build valuable critical thinking skills.

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As parents, we want our kids to understand the value of being healthy and part of a team. Whether or not that includes organized team sports is up for discussion.

My family loves sharing sports. From watching the Super Bowl together to finding an obscure cycling race on TV, we enjoy the competitive spirit that sports bring to our home. However, just because we love sharing sports, doesn’t mean my husband and I are on the same page of the playbook when it comes to whether or not our sons should play team sports.

“There is no ‘I’ in TEAM,” is a phrase many team sports advocates seem to refer to as a positive reason for supporting kids in team sports. It supports the opportunities team sports provide to work together with others and look beyond yourself for the greater good of a larger group.

My husband Robert and I are facing off this month over team sports vs. team building activities for our kids, especially when it comes to our own sons.

I love sports. I love teams. Healthy bodies and minds and team building are all great with me, just not when they become a soul-crushing misery that causes a rift in the family.

I believe team building and character come in many forms that have nothing to do with taking a lap.

My husband’s concerns run deeper than just teamwork. Looking at his own family’s poor fitness and health, as an adult Robert became an avid sailor, runner, and surfer, and he has since failed to get any of our four sons into “his sports.”

His fear for making sure our boys remain fit is a big driver for him to sign our sons up for team sports, perhaps hoping they will listen to a coach when they won’t listen to Papa.

Right now, my husband and I are debating about team sports specifically for our son Avery, 14. Avery is in the gifted programs in math and science, lean, ascetic, with shoulder length blond hair, and a passion for the video game League of Legends.

It seems that Robert’s MVP is our eldest son, Zoltan, 20, an A student and a crew team star for Virginia Commonwealth University. He runs 12 miles a day before dawn, rows 5K after that, works in a gym at VCU, and wins gold medals in national competitions.

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