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Athletic Support: “Are team sports a vital part of childhood?”
eli cranor
Syndicated sports columnist Eli Cranor

Dear Athletic Support: My husband and I have two daughters, ages 7 and 10. They are both very tall for their age so we enroll them in sports like basketball and volleyball when offered. They enjoy these activities once they get there, but we end up having to force them to follow through with the commitment. How far do we go in pushing them? Looking back, I was a little lazy and I wish my parents had pushed me more. My husband views team sports as a vital part of childhood, and I do not disagree, to a point.

— Dragging Them To Practice


Dear Dragging: I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating here: My dad used to make me throw one hundred pitches a day all through the summers of my youth. Yes, this included weekends and vacations. Yes, I hated it.


In the end, I didn’t go on to become a professional baseball player. I did, however, have a decently successful athletic career, and even more importantly, I took the lessons I learned throwing those hundred pitches and applied them to many aspects of my professional life.


Without sounding too cliché, I’m a grinder. Regardless of what I’m doing, I give it my best. Looking back, I can’t help but think I learned that lesson from Dad and his bucket of weathered baseballs.


For your situation, I’d urge you and your husband to lay some ground rules when it comes to your daughters and their athletic activities. One good rule might be to always make them finish a season if they start it.


On top of that, you could also sit down and have a discussion with your girls about the sports they actually want to play. At ages 7 and 10, they’re probably too young to know what is best for them in the long run, but I’d be willing to bet there are certain sports they like more than others.


Compile a list of all the sports offered in or around your community. There might be activities other than volleyball and basketball that your girls would really enjoy. A little autonomy goes a long way, especially when it comes to kids.


Dear Athletic Support: Fundraisers are getting out of hand. Every time I look up, my kids are bringing home another fundraiser activity. We’ve sold coupon cards and cookie dough. The last one was just some sort of email list that straight up asked people to donate money. If we don’t participate in these fundraisers, could it impact my kids’ playing time?


—No Fun


Dear No Fun: The short answer is, no, I don’t think your kids’ involvement — or lack thereof — will impact their playing time. 


However, I would urge you to think twice before you toss that coupon card aside. Fundraisers directly impact the team. The money is most often used for “fun stuff,” like summer trips for the kids, new gear, and anything extra that doesn’t fit neatly inside the coach’s predetermined school budget. 


If your kids aren’t school age, then fundraising is even more important. 


Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to 


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