Interesting article about the pressure on kids to "specialize" in a sport from the Steve Nash Youth Basketball blog, called The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports.
We had mixed experiences with sports with both our boys. Great Little League experience (especially with the son with a disability).
Great rec soccer experience for my younger son. (He did try one year of select soccer - too expensive, too much travel, too much pressure. My son, who had real talent, was the one to say no.) We had great parents on our team but some teams had win-at-all-costs parents and to hear them and their coaches scream at kids was astonishing.
Both played Ultimate Frisbee in SPS. Mixed bag as one son was at a school - that shall remain nameless - that had a no-cut policy but also, basically, a no-play policy if you were not a star. Really hurt his feelings to be told he would never play in a game - not even for 5 minutes because they had a "competitive" team and want to go to playoffs. (I also think Ultimate should be a real sport in SPS - very inclusive - boys and girls on the team - cheap and fun.)
What is very troubling is the number of articles about kids who play a sport very hard and blow out their knees by high school. That's just crazy to me. I recall one NY Times article that quoted a mom - talking about her soccer-playing daughter - "sure she'll have knee problems in her '40s but she needs to get a college scholarship now." That's one way to get your kid to college.
And, as always, there is the issue of sports within a school district. It's kind of like trying to assess the costs of a major league sports team in a city - is it really worth it? Hard to say. The U.S. is a sports-crazy nation so I don't see sports going away from our high schools but it seems like it would be better to direct those dollars towards the physical health of ALL students. I'm not advocating getting rid of high school sports but just throwing that out for discussion.