There are all sorts of differing opinions about the value—or problems—of organized sports for kids and young adults.
Those varying takes can create enough of a problem if they merely exist within a broad community, but when two parents sit on opposite ends of the debate, the result is some serious family tension.
One mother on Reddit recently found herself thrust into exactly that conflict, and she explained everything in a post to the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.
The Original Poster (OP), known as notasoccermomthrow on the site, kept things blunt and vague with the post’s initial title.
“AITA For not letting my son play organized sports?”
But she got right into the context of the whole situation when she began the post.
“I have an 8-year old son. His father and I are not married, but we share custody and I like to think we co-parent pretty well.”
“I wouldn’t even go so far as to call his father my ex, we barely dated, it was more of a fling.”
“I don’t use birth control and while we did use condoms, it either broke or failed and I ended up pregnant.”
“The father felt he wasn’t ready to be a parent, and neither of us saw us working together in a relationship, but I decided to still go forward with the pregnancy and the dad did step up although a little reluctantly.”
“We haven’t had any major disagreements on our co-parenting until recently.”
“My son wants to sign up to play organized sports. He says that all of his friends play baseball, or soccer, or hockey, or basketball. So he wants to play too.”
“But I’ve always felt that athletics are, for lack of a better word, dumb. I get the importance of physical fitness, but I feel there are other ways to obtain that than organized sports.
“I think organized sports are toxic and that thrusting that kind of competition on young kids is detrimental to their development.”
“I would be fine if he wanted to do ballet or maybe even gymnastics or swimming, but the things he wants to do are a hard ‘no’ from me.”
But an equal and opposite force was at play.
“His father is totally fine with our son doing sports, and I feel that is where my son is getting this idea.
“So I called him to talk about it and let him know that we aren’t going to sign up our son for baseball or soccer this spring.
“Well, it turned into an argument.”
The debate raged.
“He basically said that he was going to sign him up for a sport this spring whether I liked it or not.”
“He said our son wants to do it and we should let him decide on his own whether or not it’s something he wants to do and that forbidding it is only going to make him want to do it more.”
“He said he would pay for everything, do all the practices and games and I didn’t need to do anything.”
“He said he would even come pick him up from my place when our son is with me so I wouldn’t need to be involved at all.”
So OP fired back with her opinion.
“I told him I absolutely would not allow our son to be involved in that sort of thing and that when he was with me, he wouldn’t be going.”
“I said I can’t 100% control what happens when our son is with his dad, but when he’s with me, I get to say what happens. I said if he wanted to do ballet or gymnastics or something less competitive and toxic, maybe we can talk about it.”
But OP’s ex came right back with new claims.
“His dad laughed at me and asked if I actually thought ballet and gymnastics were non-competitive. He said those are some of the most toxic environments, much worse than baseball or soccer and that I should stop trying to force our son into only liking things that I approve of.”
“He said I was being an a**hole for trying to keep our son from experiencing things in life that he wants to try and that I am doing our son a disservice by being so controlling about this.”
“He said he’s going to sign our son up even without my approval and hung up on me.”
The argument left OP unsure of herself.
“I’m just trying to protect my son. AITA here?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Most Redditors took OP’s ex’s side. They felt OP was way off in her assessment.
They pointed to what they felt were the true motivations behind her stance.
“YTA. Wow. You’re denying your son something he’s interested in because of your own rather snobbish opinion of organized sports.”
“Honestly, the condescension practically drips from your post – gymnastics are somehow acceptable, but soccer, the most popular sport in the world, played by millions, is ‘stupid’?”
“BTW, your ex is right about how cutthroat and competitive gymnastics and ballet are.”
“There’s only one thing stupid here, and it isn’t organized sports. I feel sorry for your son for having a mother who is so closed-minded.” — dbradx
“YTA You’re being so self centered. Your son is his own person, not an extension of you.” — PurpleDot0
“YTA. Your son shouldn’t be punished for your issues. It sounds like you have a hang up with traditional ‘male’ activities. Gymnastics and ballet are just as if not worse in what you described as other sports.” — heretoomuch
Others piggy backed on her ex’s logic.
“He is right. Ballet and gymnastics are nightly competitive and toxic sports. Ballet is VERY toxic especially towards poc. So is gymnastics but ballet dancers cant get shoes in the right color if they aren’t white.”
“Your son is 8. He is old enough to have an opinion in his activities. The poor kid wants to play a game and hang out with his friends.” — ChemicalParfait
“Yes, YTA. Soccer is a wonderful sport that encourages team work. And the dad is right, the ballet world can be super toxic. What are you afraid of?” — Thia-M
Others advocated for the benefits of organized sports.
“YTA for preventing your son from:-
- Doing something he is interested in
- Making friends with similar interests
- Developing skills i.e. discipline, teamwork etc that could help him through all walks of life
- Teach him good fitness habits”
“You’re unbelievably self-centred and your reasons for not wanting him to join just make it sound like you sucked at sports in school and were never picked for teams” — Workhardgymharder
- “Things I’ve learned by playing sports:
- Companionship. Working as part of a team.
- Winning fairly and not by cheating.
- That losing is sometimes the thing that’s needed to get better.
- The importance of being physically fit and healthy.
- How nutrition and healthy habits (say no to smoking) positively affect performance.
- Working as a team. I cannot emphasize this enough.”
“I’m sorry you’re seeing sports for all the bad things they *may* cause, when you’re actively ignoring all the good things they *do* offer.” — JessicaJones2
These Redditors can rest easy that, at least according to the post’s conclusion, OP’s son will be on the field this summer.