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Nov 15 2012

Should My 8-Month-Old Already Be Competing?

By at 9:40 am

As he toweled off, my husband asked me, “How old do you think the youngest Floater ever was?”

My 8-month-old son, Carston, had just completed his first swim lesson as part of the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy (LKSA) at the JCC in Newton, Massachusetts. LKSA is a seven-level swimming program designed to teach kids to swim safely; it begins at level one, Splasher, continues on to Floater, then Kickers, and eventually ends with Flyers.

I’d been motivated to sign my little splasher up for safety reasons and, honestly, because I’d heard kids nap better after they swim. My husband, on the other hand, was ready for our son to become the next Michael Phelps—or more appropriately, Mark Spitz.  Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 17 2012

I Send My Jewish Son to Catholic School

By at 10:05 am
baseball kid

My son Nicky at bat.

My son Nicky loves baseball. He’s really, really good at it.

Despite the looooong list of Jews who made it big in baseball, we were shocked to learn our town was not overflowing with Jewish schools that have viable baseball programs. My husband’s old Catholic school, however, (“The Hall”) has a very well-respected baseball program. So does another Catholic school nearer to us (“The Mount”). Mark Teixeira is a hometown boy who went to The Mount. We forgive his playing for the Yankees. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2012

Olympic Athletes Can Grow Up to Be Normal People, Too

By at 4:10 pm
alina adams brian boitano

Me with Brian Boitano!

Would you want your kid on a Wheeties box, Renee Septimus wondered here on Kveller. She talked about the kind of things that young Olympic athletes must be giving up to acheive their level of success–school, summer camp, birthday parties, etc.

Renee concluded: I’m glad my children lived “average” lives. They turned into well-rounded, self-actualized adults with many interests, good relationships, and satisfying careers.

As someone who spent several years covering Olympic sports for ABC, ESPN, and TNT, as the older sister and official chaperone of a brother who was the 1996 US Novice Ice Dancing Champion and, last but not least, a mom, myself, I have a different perspective on the subject. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 13 2012

Would You Want Your Kids on a Wheaties Box?

By at 12:41 pm

usa gymnastics team london olympicsWe all love Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and the rest of the USA women’s gymnastics team. They were the only team I tried to catch when they performed. I don’t enjoy watching sports, but I love ballet and I am astonished at what those young women could do with their bodies. Their movements seem to take dance to another level.

But I wonder–at what cost? What do athletes like Aly and Gabby give up to achieve perfection in their sport? Surely they give up the typical childhood and adolescence most people have. And although when you are going through it, it may seem painful, most of us cherish memories of school, camp, birthday parties, friends. I guess I mean that they miss the balance of a life well-lived. (No pun intended.) Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 3 2012

Will Sports Really Raise My Son’s Self-Esteem?

By at 10:06 am

little boy soccer ballMy sister has five children. All of them are heavily involved in team sports, and thriving–great physical shape, good grades, active social lives, and high self-esteem.

She’s utterly convinced that team sports are crucial to self-esteem building, and that I’d better get my kid started with one–NOW–before he falls hopelessly behind.

First of all, HE’S FIVE. There are lots of reasons to do team sports, but there are even more reasons to build garages for all your BOB trucks. Or put on goggles and swim across the living room. He’s FIVE.

I totally believe in sports, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not so sure that it’s the only path to self-esteem. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 30 2012

Jewish Parents at the Olympics are Pure Gold

By at 10:35 am

aly raisman london olympics 2012Which Jewish parents are the biggest kvellers in America today? That would Lynn and Ricky Raisman, whose 18-year-old daughter Aly Raisman scored one of the two American spots to contend for the all-around title in women’s gymnastics at the London Olympics yesterday. Not only did their daughter score high enough to replace the reigning world champion, Jordyn Wieber, who was a heavy favorite for a gold medal, she performed her floor routine to Hava Nagila. So much nachas!

But the best thing to come out of all of this does not even feature Aly–it’s all about her parents. One genius videographer chose to zoom in on the Raismans during Aly’s bar routine, and the footage that came out of it is pure (Olympic) gold. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have your child compete in the Olympics, check it out:

To see her parents in a slightly calmer light, check out this interview with them for NESN.com, in which the key to Raisman’s success is revealed: Mommy & Me gymnastics classes at age 2.

Jun 25 2012

Do All Our Kids Really Need to Feel Like Winners?

By at 2:54 pm

trophyOn the last day of his after-school tennis program, my 6-year-old came home with a trophy.

“Wow Zack, I’m so proud of you!” I said.

“Why? Everyone got one.” His blasé tone shifted immediately and somewhat manically to intense excitement.

“Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” Zack chanted as he pumped the trophy overhead, just like he’d seen a classmate do at his recent reading awards ceremony. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 3 2012

Superbowl Snacks for Jews

By at 3:22 pm

briket slidersWhen I think about the Superbowl, I think of the gigantic-sized serving of matzah ball soup offered at Max & Benny’s, my favorite Jewish deli in Chicago. I guess other people might think of that big sports game where two teams of oversized men wear shiny leggings and knock each other out. Regardless, the one thing I’m pretty sure we can all agree on is that the best part about watching sports is eating snacks.

Over on The Nosher, Shannon Sarna has been posting some recipes for game day snacks that sound–and look–incredible. If you’re planning on whipping up anything for the big game, we highly recommend you check these out:

Chicken Wings Two Ways: Featuring both traditional and sweet-and-spicy Asian wings.

“Marry Me” Brisket Sliders: So good, if you serve to your intended, they will definitely fall in love.

Kosher Stuffed Potato Skins: Ditching the regular bacon topping for some veggie chili.

Happy cooking, and yay for sports!

May 23 2011

For $200 Find Out if Your Kid Should Play Squash or Basketball

By at 12:11 pm

If you’re on this website, chances are good you’ve heard of testing for Jewish genetic diseases. But how about genetic testing…for sports proclivity?

According to the Washington Post, two companies have recently begun selling test kits that for less than $200 will help parents determine to which sports their children are genetically suited. And no, I’m not kidding. The idea is that the DNA scan will evaluate the kid’s potential at different sports, and also lend itself toward helping tailor workouts and physical activity – as well as provide an early-detection system for predispositions to certain problems and illnesses.

OK, the latter sounds not so bad, especially if it helps the kid embark early on a course of action to avoid them. But the piece points out that critics say such tests are “questionable,” both in the fact that the results may be “needlessly alarming or falsely reassuring,” and the fact that no one really can tell the influence of genes on athletic prowess.

I do believe that genetics play a certain role in sports, but am not sure I can subscribe to the idea of testing as providing an end-all, be-all synopsis of your fate. But isn’t that true of any evaluative test – don’t rely on it excessively, but it does have the capacity point you in the proper direction? So basically, I think these tests aren’t so awful – so long as you don’t take them particularly seriously. Which may mean not taking them in the first place.

Of course, I don’t need a genetic screen to tell me that my kids aren’t destined to be the next LeBron. Based on factors like my own shrimp-esque height and lack of any athletic ability, I feel that’s a pretty solid predictor. But as I watch my little 6-year-old shoot ball after ball in the general direction of the basketball hoop in our driveway, I sure as hell am not going to be the one to tell him that.

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