One day of rest. That’s all the families are requesting.

Some parents in southern suburbs of the Twin Cities will not be allowing their kids to attend sports practices and games on Sundays. It’s not a matter of religion. It’s a matter of not letting sports be the only religion.

The parents just want to reclaim family time they say has been replaced by organized youth sports. They’ve decided to begin a boycott this summer.

At first glance, the action might seem extreme. After all, doesn’t research show that an involved kid is a kid who stays out of trouble?

That’s true to an extent, but here’s the problem: Being active isn’t about joining in a pick-up game of basketball on the playground anymore. Today it means joining a club or community recreation team, practicing during the week and traveling around the state to games and tournaments on weekends.

That doesn’t leave much free time for kids to spend with families. If you know of a kid who plays a team sport, then you know a kid who has had to skip a weekend at Grandma’s house, a wedding or a family reunion.

University of Minnesota family social science professor Bill Doherty, who is assisting the parents’ group, says overscheduled adults have produced overscheduled children.

The pressure is on the kids to meet team obligations. If you miss the practices or the games, then you might be penalized by not being able to play as much.

The parents who are organizing the boycott are not anti-sport. They’ve enrolled their kids in youth sports because they know the benefits of exercise and team play. They just want a bit more control of their kids’ time. It’s obvious why a group approach would be considered most effective. A couple of whining parents are easy for a coach to dismiss. A united front is a lot more difficult to ignore.

And there is no reason to make coaches into villains. They are sacrificing their own free time for these young athletes. They are pushing the kids hard because the other coaches are doing the same. What needs to change is the culture of youth sports.

Asking for one day off during the week seems like a reasonable compromise for gaining family time — maybe even allowing a chance for a pick-up game of basketball on the driveway with Mom and Dad and the kids.

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