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Parenting: When is it OK to let kids quit sports?

June 12, 2010 |  6:00 am


There is no crying in football, the saying goes. Not unless you are the parent of a child who wants to quit the team anyway. In that case, there is a lot of crying involved (usually by the frustrated parents).

Most people with a child in youth sports can tell you something about quitting. My dilemma began the way many parent-child negotiations do: with begging. When my 7-year-old son pleaded to play tackle football last year, I did not resist because I was worried about broken bones and concussions. I resisted because as a single mother of two, I knew the nightly practices would kill me, not him.

Contrary to my good sense, however, I enrolled him and watched as the pint-sized players donned their pads -- occasionally their cups -- to practice five nights a week like grown men.

Then, after 13 weeks of screaming and berating by one of the coaches -- and a nearly perfect record I should point out -- my son did what his gut told him to do: He quit. “It’s not fun,” he said wearily.

How does a parent know when it’s time to quit and when it’s time to insist that children stick to what they start? I asked experts for advice. Read my First-Person Parent article and chime in with your comments.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo: It's difficult for parents to know when to let kids walk away from youth sports such as soccer. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times