SG Sports
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My son Sebastian has a Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD).  Throughout the years as we have seen Sebastian grow we have focused our energies on developing his capabilities.  During this time we have made several discoveries.  First, it is about the total child and no one aspect is less important than another – education and how he learns, social skills and peer interaction, fine and gross motor coordination.  Second, the approach we adopt is not one of “can’t” or “won’t”, but how do we turn that into “can” and “will” – how do we knock down those barriers and give him the enriched life he deserves.  Third, these kids are like any other kids – they want the same experiences and opportunities but the environment needs to be adjusted, some skills have to be taught versus acquired naturally – there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to children.  Last, no one has all the answers and like all parents, we just keep trying and we learn more from our son every day. 

 

Sebastian is a sports fanatic and wants to try all sports.  I have coached him through t-ball/baseball, flag football, and soccer.  My wife cheers from the sidelines.  We see our son from different perspectives during playtime.  I am in the midst of the game, trying to figure out how each child gets to experience success, how to balance the “star” players with those that are less coordinated, how to teach but make it fun, how to encourage and celebrate individual and team successes equally.  My wife is focused on Sebastian – seeing him smile, mimicking the moves of his favorite players. However, in the past, in age segregated organizations also watching the other kids run past him, seeing him become disengaged as he cannot keep up, listening to the comments and whispers of the other parents as they are confused or frustrated.  Sebastian wants to play, he wants to be on a team, he wants to get a jersey and have a season-end pizza celebration, and tell the kids at school that he is a football player just like them.

 

The concept for SG Sports was born in 2009 while I was looking for sports organizations for my son Sebastian to play in.  Most children’s sports activities are organized by age and the level of competition rises rapidly at a young age.  While I agree there is a place and need for these organizations; for Sebastian this would typically mean that he would get less playing time and likely result in diminished self-esteem.  There are few options for him to enjoy playing the game, as he simply cannot keep up with most children his own age.

 

While coaching in local organizations I began experimenting with moving players to teams not based on age, but by skill.  The results were astounding: children became more interested and involved in playing the game; their self-esteem increased and parents were also more excited and involved.  We had a child on our baseball team that could not catch the ball.  He decided that he would always play in the outfield where there was little chance of the ball being hit to him.  When the ball was hit to him, the other players would run out and get the ball before he had a chance.  He did not mind.  He also lost interest in playing the game.  His parents said the game was just not for him and were willing to take him out for the rest of the season.  During the next game, and to the amazement of his teammates, we placed him at first base where he would be thrown the ball on every play.  He didn’t catch every ball, but now he was an integral part of the team and his teammates encouraged him when he did well.  From that day forward, he socialized more with his teammates and wanted to get as many touches on the ball as possible.  This player who was willing to leave the game, possibly forever, was now excited to play catch with his parents and looked forward to playing with his teammates next season.

 

We provide children with a chance to play the entire game.  We teach children that everyone develops at their own pace.  Children are told that as long as they try their best then that is all that matters; not whether they can hit a home run; score a touchdown or a goal.  On one football team we had a child, that while although the fastest on the team, always ran towards the wrong end zone.  I was approached by several children and told not to give him the ball anymore; he always ran the wrong way!  I asked them if they thought he was trying his best. They all replied yes. I again asked the teammates, are you trying your best? Again they replied yes. Are you perfect? No. Be patient; he is learning at his own pace.  The children accepted this and understood that winning is not everything, but also collectively working as a team they would be more successful.  The child continued to get the ball equally along with rest of the team and eventually went on to score many touchdowns that season.   His self-esteem and enjoyment for playing increased. His parents were thrilled. He is excited to play next season.

 

As I spoke with many parents, I heard similar stories; they were also looking for organizations where their children could enjoy playing organized sports based on skill not by age in a difference-acceptance environment that encourages teamwork and socialization.  For the thrill of the game, for the spirit of team and community, for the love of a child --  thus SG Sports was born.
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