Everyone’s got to have a hobby or two, right? And sports are good—sports are healthy, right?  Moreover, ‘gully cricket’ round the year, in nearly every alleyway of the country, has been a time-honoured tradition of Indian youth of all ages, smitten with the ‘Gentlemen’s Sport’. So, why should ‘dealing with cricket crazy kids’ be a point on the agenda at all?

Well, the term ‘crazy’ says it all. A natural aptitude for the sport is one thing; so is devoting every free moment to it, collecting memorabilia and citing facts and figures ad nauseam—nothing new about it. However, when a fascination for cricket is hyped up to insane levels by the glamour and media blitz attached to matches—be it World Cups, international tournaments or league matches—and kids abandon their studies and everything else for their obsession with cricket, there is definitely cause for parents to worry.

Some useful tips to help you keep a balance:

1. Play Along

The first thing to keep in mind is that children are contrary creatures. If you show opposition or disapproval for something they like, it reinforces their opinion of you as ‘stick-in-the-mud oldies’ and they are even more drawn to it. On the other hand, ‘reverse psychology’ works every time! So, instead of opposing, support their enthusiasm for cricket. Buy them the equipment and encourage them to go to the park and play cricket with their friends every single evening. When their parents virtually force them to do something—even something they like—it usually has a dampening effect. You’ll see, the obsession will soon be tempered down into a healthy interest in the game!

2. Encourage Them to Diversify Their Interests

Often children get caught up in cricket, not because they are genuinely interested, but because it is the ‘fad’ and they don’t want to feel out of place among their friends. Explore various hobbies, sports and pastimes with your children and encourage them to enlarge their horizons by taking an interest in multiple hobbies, rather than just obsessing about just one.

3. Make Good Grades a Precondition

Make it clear to your children that you have no problem with their fondness for cricket, as long as they don’t let their school performance slip because of it. Be open with them, letting them know that if they have real talent, you would be prepared to support them in making their career in cricket. However, since only a handful of aspirants make it even the zonal teams, out of the thousands who try out, it would be wiser to line up a backup option by studying hard.

4. Set Rules About Screen Time

Come cricket season and most youngsters are to be found glued to the television, and for those kids who have ready access to tablets and mobile phones, even the ‘off-season’ is occupied with online cricket games, which takes away even the health benefits of playing in the fresh air. Here parents need to take a firm stand and set limits to screen time. This could be enforced by means of incentives (for example, their favourite food or dessert if they comply with the rules for a week), and disincentives (such as cutback in play time or extra study time if they exceed the screen time limit).

5. Let Them See The Grind Behind The Glamour

If your child is really obsessed with the game, it might be a good idea to get her some formal coaching at any of the numerous coaching academies to be found in the city. This will give her a reality check, and prune away all the glamorous visions of Cricket Stardom. Let her see the sweat and hard work involved in playing the game at the professional level. And if your child gets through the grind without flinching and maintains his enthusiasm, perhaps you should seriously consider supporting his passion!