Going on vacation when you have kids in sports? God help you!


I struggled with this week’s column because I’m a little worried about the ramifications of this article. I hope it doesn’t make life difficult for my kids at school.

Has anyone out there had as much difficulty as I have scheduling a family vacation around the practice/game schedules of their school athlete? I lucked out last week and escaped to Colorado. I did have to come up with a covert operation to sneak away.

Here are the operational steps to achieve such a covert operation:


Step One: Never mention “Family Vacation” to any coach at any time. It will result in your athlete being benched for some time until the coach has gotten his or her point across regarding the utter distain of the Family Vacation. Substitute “family vacation” with “extra academic/sport-o-rific thinking out of the box athletic camp”. See if they’ll buy that instead.


Step Two: Call the best Psychic you know. John Edward may be free; his show was cancelled. Ask the psychic if your son or daughter will make the team they are trying out for. If he says yes…cancel the family vacation. If he says no…cancel the family vacation, sometimes psychics have blurry visions. Having John Edward predict when the coach’s vacation is may be the only way to schedule yours.


Step Three: Ignore these words “the summer/spring /winter break practice is optional” What this really means is “if you want your athlete to play, they better show up to practice even if school is not in session.” All family vacations taken during these breaks will result in your athlete being labeled “uncooperative.” If you have a vacation planned during one of the breaks mentioned above, a death in the family may be your only way out. You may have to produce a body for some coaches, so be prepared.


Step Four: Football season starts in August and ends in August the following year.  If your child is a football player your only option is to buy a DVD of your vacation spot, sprinkle sand all over your living room, and hope you get some sun from the heat lamp in your bathroom.  You’re not going anywhere. Sorry, covert operations seem to be ineffective against football coaches. The only way you may sneak past is if you are being inducted into the Football Hall of Fame and they need your whole family there for the pictures.


Step Five: Call your child in sick. It works at your job; see if you can get away with it. Insinuating that your child may have any of the following diseases will certainly warrant an excused absence… Chicken Pox, Leprosy, Bird flu, Tuberculosis, Whooping Cough, Rabies, The Plague (bubonic is fine; the biblical plagues are much too complicated).


I have coached many different sports for many years. Everyone wants to win and at the same time everyone is always preaching about family values. So where do you strike a balance between the two? When I coach, family always comes first. If a kid has a party for grandma’s 80th birthday, they miss a game to be with Grandma. Vacations make memories for families. Your family will be together long after your coach and school have forgotten about you. Kids need vacations, whether it’s a camping trip to a local campground or a trip to Europe. It’s not the place, it’s the time and the company. As a coach, I understand the importance of commitment to the team. I think we need to commit to our families first.


I’m sure when the coaches read this, they’ll make me take a lap.


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