Dear Athletic Support: My son is in summer school. He’s going into his senior football season, and I really hate that he’s stuck doing summer school. I hate it because summer school lasts for fifteen days and goes from eight in the morning until three in the afternoon. There’s no chance at all for him to make any of his football workouts during that time. What’s worse, my son is going to have to miss two team camps because of summer school. These camps are held at colleges and are such a huge help when it comes to getting young athletes recruited. I understand that football isn’t more important than school, but this year has been so different and difficult. My son started off as a virtual student. You know, trying to do what was best for everybody, but he couldn’t keep up in those classes. When I finally realized this, I got him back into the regular classes and he was already too far behind to catch up. Now I’m just torn. He’s worked most all his life with hopes and dreams of earning a football scholarship, but summer school is keeping him from it. Why couldn’t he just re-take this class again in the fall or spring?
— Summer School Stinks
Dear Stinks: I am a former high school football coach, but I’m currently a high school English teacher, and here’s something I’ve observed from the last year of COVID school:
Teachers and administrators are bending over backwards to make sure kids don’t fail. We’re grading extra-late assignments. We’re accepting work by email, paper and pigeon (joke!). We’re doing every single thing we can to ensure that our students don’t fail.
Despite all that, your son still hasn’t been able to pass whatever class he’s now taking in summer school. Which could mean he’s extremely lazy and made COVID his perpetual excuse to slack off…
Or, he’s really struggling. And if that’s the case, then he needs summer school more than he needs football.
Even if your son is good enough to get a football scholarship, his grades still matter more. He will have to graduate in order to obtain a scholarship, and if he’s a senior, then knocking out a troublesome class over fifteen days in the summer is way easier than enduring a whole semester.
Summer workouts and camps are important, sure. But they’re nothing compared to Friday nights.
If I were you, I’d use this summer as a teachable moment. I might go so far as to even exclude him from football until summer school is over. That way he can focus on his class and also learn a valuable lesson about what’s really at stake.
If he asks you why you’re doing this? Tell him his senior season is at stake. If he doesn’t have the proper grades to be eligible by the fall. He won’t play.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to email@example.com