Sport is taken seriously from a very early age across America. That's why they win so many medals, I think. They don't mess around. TLOML showed promise as a swimmer from a young age so spent his teenage years in 6am or 7am swim practice five days a week, with meets most weekends. I don't think even the British junior squad practice that hard. Given the amount of money generated by college sports, and the difference a sports scholarship can make to a university application (not to mention tuition costs), it makes sense that parents would want their athletic children to excel.
Here in the South Bay they step it up a notch. It may be a Californian thing: the golden state is notoriously fitness focussed. Or the fact that the weather lends itself to year-round outdoor activities. Or maybe because there is a disproportionate number of pro-atheletes living here, from LA Kings and Galaxy (who practice in nearby El Segundo and Carson respectively) players to volleyball stars and pro-surfers, not to mention the little known tennis player, Maria Sharapova.
Friends have told us of incredibly competitive soccer leagues, where teams of 7 year olds are selected in a very serious draft which excludes any possibility of picking friends or cousins just to have fun. I see the crowds that gather to watch the 9 year old basketball teams play matches at the weekends. And a friend recently told me her 8 year old's softball team are playing at a tournament in Vegas - i.e. 300 miles away, in another state - in a couple of weeks.
Naturally I scorn all of this. And yet.. well, we wouldn't want Lady P to be left behind, would we? And what if she's inherited my athletic (in)abilities? She'll be the scourge of her school.
So we've signed her up for Sportball, a non-competitive coaching for toddlers and young children. Each week they attempt to train a handful of two and three year olds (which is akin to herding cats) in basic techniques, like running, or kicking a ball, or throwing.
Is it wrong that I was proud to see Lady P doing exactly what I would do, and using the ball as a seat? And this, when all the other children were learning how to bounce a ball. Her mother's daughter, indeed.
And just like that, TLOML insists we start bumping up our contributions to her college fund, in case that athletics scholarship is out of our grasp.