You get to be us for a week,” my daughter in law said with a grin. Probably a sigh of relief too, but she hid it well. She was off to Texas on business (nice work if you can get it in February) and my son decided to take a pre-calving break and go along.

We had a day by day schedule for the teenager’s activities, and another one for cattle feeding. This should be a piece of cake, right? My own teens kept us on the run with all their commitments, so I’m used to it, even if that was a lot of years ago. But there are a lot more games nowadays and the school keeps changing its mind. With 3 kids in different grades and 3 different sports, it was a zoo. The only ones that kept to the original plan were the cows.

I’ve been reading about the old days in America, when children had to work long hours at factories and were paid little or nothing. They were hungry, exhausted, and half sick a lot of the time. Thankfully, our laws no longer permit such conditions, but many nations do. I try not to buy clothing made in those countries and avoid supporting companies who take part in that abuse, but it’s hard to find made in America these days.

What has that last paragraph to do with school sports, you ask? In reality, many of today’s youth still endure abuse, masked as opportunity. My grandkids live thirty miles from school and have to drive themselves in order to take part in sports. There’s a bus, but activities seldom coincide with the bus schedules, so we put teen drivers on the road in all kinds of weather, mostly on country roads, in the dark.

The kids leave home by 6:45 on mornings when they drive. Fifteen minutes sooner if they ride the bus. They get home from practices about 7, eat supper, and hit the homework. That’s on a normal day, but normal days are few and far between. Two days last week, the boys drove out of the yard shortly after 4 am, in order to be at school and on a bus to somewhere far off by 5. They skip breakfast, in order to grab a few more minutes of sleep. One day last week, my granddaughter had an unscheduled practice for quiz bowl after school, which required her to wait around town until her brother got out of wrestling practice. The other brother was playing basketball—this meant two vehicles in town that day—and he made it home at 10 pm for supper, then off to homework. Same thing the following day, only the wrestler had to leave earlier because of a two day overnight trip. Some weeks, the wrestlers have meets on 3 consecutive days. The wrestler, of course, never eats supper at all—trying to make weight, you know. These kids manage to stay on the honor roll, but surely those who struggle academically fall through the cracks. And we wonder why they are sick, stressed, and have trouble focusing. Never mind the gas bill for parents who want the youngsters to be able to participate. Do athletic associations that promote such silliness even care?

Please  understand, I’m in favor of sports. They’re fun and kids learn a lot, but this has become un-fun. We’ve supersized sandwiches, drinks, and clothing, and now we supersize school sports. This is about adult egos, not the kids.

Ok. I’m off the soapbox now, but just saying… Quoting a certain red neck radio personality, “Wake up, America!”

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