All good things must come to an end, but with each end comes a new beginning. And that’s just what today’s column is: the end of “From the Pocket” and the beginning of “Athletic Support.” I’ve had a blast sharing my thoughts with you over the last year and a half. Thanks for all the support. With this new column, I plan to put the spotlight back on sports. Let me start with a question:
How much do you love your children?
Do you love them enough to scale the backstop at a little league game, dangle from the chain link, and scream profanities at the seventeen-year-old umpire behind the plate?
I hope not.
But if your kids are in youth-league sports, you’ve probably witnessed a similar scene.
There’s an epidemic sweeping its way across our nation, and the source of the sickness — the heart of the disease — is parents. They’re brawling in the parking lots after peewee football games, storming the courts at halftime, and causing all sorts of trouble.
The kids, on the other hand, aren’t much of a problem at all. After baking in hundred-degree heat and playing six softball games, all in one day, they’re too stinking tired to cause much trouble.
Maybe that’s why parents are so gung-ho about sports these days: everybody loves a sleepy kid. Or maybe it’s something else, a unicorn called a college scholarship.
The allure of college scholarships is a huge motivating factor for parents, and rightfully so. If your baby gets a volleyball scholarship, you can spend her college fund on a Winnebago and road dog your way across the country to see your little superstar play!
But here’s the hard truth: The odds of earning an NCAA athletic scholarship are slim. Only 3.3 percent of the seven million American high school students who participate in sports will become NCAA athletes.
Is your kid in the top 3.3 percent? Maybe he is. Maybe he’ll be one of the ones awarded a scholarship. Even then, the average scholarship is less than $10,400 (and many are much less, especially in smaller classifications like DII).
So, the mystical unicorn of a full-ride scholarship only really happens for Division 1 athletes in four sports: men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, and football.
If your kid has a dream of playing D1 ball, I’m not here to burst his bubble. But I am here to make sure it’s his dream, her dream — your kid’s dream — not yours.
Because if it’s your dream, and that’s why you’re howling at the pimple-faced ump while your kid cringes in the dugout, then let’s take a step back and work through this thing together.
I’m here to help.
This column can be your safe place. A place where you send in anonymous questions concerning your child’s sporting endeavors, and I’ll answer them. I’ve played football at every level, pee-wee to professional. I was a head coach, an assistant coach, and now I’m a father. I take my daughter to gymnastics on Wednesdays. I’ve seen things.
“Athletic Support” will work as part advice column, part sports column. Some weeks, I won’t answer questions at all, but instead, focus on a story and how it relates to youth sports.
When I do answer questions, I will always do so honestly. This means a great deal to me. I believe sports are one of the greatest teaching tools America has to offer. With that being said, let’s make sure we’re doing it the right way. Let’s offer “athletic support” that doesn’t stink.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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