Many moons ago I played soccer.  I was part of a club team that was one of the very few to employ a trainer.  We were considered “elite” and “premier.”  At the time I thought very little about the titles given to us, I just knew that we were all serious about soccer and wanted to win tournaments.  And we did.  Every year we attended a number of ‘by invitation only’ tournaments, and we fortunate to win a few.  We even competed on a national level, winning the youth national championship.

Our parents spent a lot of money each year on all of these tournaments and the training, but in some ways it was worth it.  We saw results for the money invested, and I think just about all of us were recruited by a number of schools to play soccer in college.

I have often thought about whether I want to do the same with my kids.  Despite our soccer success and the doors that opened for college, do I see the benefit in the money spent?  Thus far the answer is no.  There is no way I want to spend that kind of money (let alone time) pursuing sports in that same way.

Fast forward to today, over ten years since all of that, and I am coaching a high school JV team were about half of them have private trainers.  Parents spend thousands of dollars each year for the privilege of being called “premier” as if somehow having a trainer makes you premier.

I took an unofficial poll among my team last week, asking what their goals are for soccer.  Most of them hope to play varsity in high school, but only a very small handful had the goal of playing soccer in college.  For some, they have other sports that they plan to play in college, for others they simply have no interest beyond high school.

I drove home from practice that day baffled.  Here the parents are spending thousands each year for these private trainers, yet these girls have no desire to continue with soccer after high school.  What is the point?  Do these parents know what is in the mind of their daughters?  It seems to me that these parents are investing in a very expensive family hobby, and the girls play the sport, and the family spends their weekends and holidays watching the games.

There is no profound insight here, just honest befuddlement.  I simply don’t get it.