Dear Athletic Support: My daughter isn’t very athletic, but she’s on the 7th grade girls’ basketball team this season. Even though she doesn’t get to play much, she’s really having a great time. I’m a little torn. I love sports and played everything growing up. I can already tell my daughter doesn’t have that much of a future in athletics. What I’m saying, it’s not like she’s going to earn a college scholarship. She probably won’t play in high school. Maybe not even junior high. So I guess I’m just wondering how serious I should take this first basketball season. Does that make sense?
Dear Seriously: No, it doesn’t make that much sense. The majority of kids who play sports in seventh grade won’t still be playing by the time they’re seniors in high school. A much smaller percentage will play in college. An even smaller fraction will earn scholarships.
So should she still play? I think that’s what you’re asking, and the answer is — Yes!
Sports are good for kids. They get them off the sofa and running around, not thinking about screens or social media. Sports also teach lessons that are not taught in schools.
Over the course of her 7th grade basketball season, your daughter will learn how to win — and lose — gracefully. She’ll learn how to push through physical pain. How to persevere. She’ll also bond with the other girls on her team in ways that are almost impossible outside of athletics. There’s nothing like the camaraderie of a locker room.
Whether your daughter’s a benchwarmer or a future WNBA star, you should approach her athletic endeavors in the same way. Make sure she has fun. Make sure she learns the important life lessons. And let the rest take care of itself.
Dear Athletic Support: I got thrown out of my daughter’s 7th grade basketball game the other night. The B game. We were way up on the team, literally playing the best game we’ve played all year, and the refs just completely quit blowing their whistles. Obvious double dribble. No call. A girl runs it in from the baseline and the refs just give her the ball back. It’s getting close at the end, the other team’s coming back, and I yell, “Come on, ref, blow the whistle!” I did yell it, and I don’t normally yell at the refs in this setting, but come on! They called the athletic director and I was escorted out of the gym. I didn’t get to see the end of the game, but I heard it ended in a tie. Because it’s a B game, there’s no overtime. That’s it. Game over. We played the best game of our season and had it taken from us. Was I in the wrong? I mean, it was a real game. They were actually keeping score, so I don’t think it’s fair for the refs to try and help the other team when they’re down. Do you?
—You Blew It
Dear Blew It: It’s always best to refrain from getting ejected from youth sporting events, especially 7thgrade B games. That being said, refs shouldn’t interfere with the outcome, either.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to email@example.com