Black Friday has come and gone, and that means the holiday season is officially on our doorstep. And that means it's time to start buying gifts for family and friends.
When we do, we often ask ourselves, "What do I buy for someone who has everything?"
Well, what about those with very little? There are thousands of kids around the county who would give just about anything to play youth sports. The only problem is, their families can't afford the registration fees, the cost of uniforms and equipment, nor do they have the friends willing to buy the mandatory fundraising items.
Sure, most leagues and recreation departments claim that money is never an issue for a child not to play. But in reality, many families are too embarrassed to ask for help, and so their children never get the opportunity to experience what it's like to play soccer on a Saturday, shoot a basketball indoors or be cheered on by teammates.
Perhaps the best gift you can give this Christmas is a sports scholarship. I'm not talking about one at a four-year college that will put off your retirement for 10 years. But rather, one at the local recreation league or youth sports organization.
Most youth league registration fees range from $50 to $100. (Note I said most, and I didn't include travel leagues.) My guess is whatever league your child plays in has some sort of financial assistance to help families who need support in order for their son or daughter to participate. A quick call to the league president will get you that answer.
Once you know whom to make the check out to, for how much and where to send it, use this generous holiday gift-giving idea as a lesson for your children. Talk to them about how lucky they are to play the number of sports they do and have the necessary equipment to safely participate. Remind them there are thousands of kids all over America who don't get to play youth sports.
And then spring it on your children that they are getting one less gift this year under the tree so that a child (or children, depending on the amount you give) will have an opportunity to play on the same courts or fields that they have grown accustomed to, and usually take for granted. They might hem and haw at first, but my guess is if you ask them to sit back and think about what their lives would be like without youth sports, they'll come around and support the idea of helping out just one child so he or she can experience the same fun playing youth sports that they have always assumed is a right, not a privilege.
And who knows, maybe they'll offer to give up a second gift. Or at the very least, suggest it becomes an annual holiday tradition.
A youth sports scholarship is a great gift for that certain someone who doesn't have everything.
Jon Buzby's columns appear in newspapers and magazines around the country as well as numerous webites. Send comments to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.