Dear Athletic Support: How much should I spend on a pair of football cleats? The prices I’ve found range from fifty bucks well up into the hundreds. I want my son to be properly equipped, but do I really have to fork out all that money, or is this more of a “style” thing? My son’s in junior high. He has his heart set on the fancy cleats.
Dear Fancy: When it comes to cleats, there’s not much difference in quality at the higher price points. There might be some extra swag, ig: neon green colors, Velcro ankle straps, etc. But is your kid really getting any extra protection?
Meh. I don’t think so.
I don’t have any science to back up this claim, but I have seen some cleats in my day. I’ve seen the right toe of a two-hundred buck Nike blow out the third practice of two-a-days. I’ve seen a pair of Walmart cleats make it all the way through a season.
The most important thing when it comes to cleats is how they fit. Make sure you have at least a quarter inch of space at the end of your son’s toe. That’ll give him some extra room when he plants his foot.
Cleats that are too small can result in painful blisters, and even sometimes the loss of toenails. Don’t fret over the money — just get the right size.
Dear Athletic Support: My daughter quit volleyball before the start of this season because she’s scared of COVID. What should I do?
Dear Scared: If she’s scared enough to quit volleyball, then I don’t think you’re going to change her mind. That is, unless she’s always wanted to quit volleyball and is just using COVID as an excuse.
Regardless, I’d say it’s time for a sit-down conversation. Come to her with compassion, seeking to understand her side of the story before casting judgement or making any demands.
Dear Athletic Support: I don’t have any kids in athletics. I did, at one point, way back in the Stone Age. I’m just an old grandpa now. Even my grandkids are too old for youth sports. But I still read your column every weekend, and listen, I’ve got a question. How old are you? Judging by your picture, you look like a young buck. Anybody offering advice to other parents should be my age. Don’t you think?
Dear Paw: I’m 33. And most of the questions I answer for this column have to do with my coaching experience. I coached for 5 years. Two as an offensive coordinator. Two as a head coach. And one spent coaching the offensive line. I also coached a little baseball and track at the varsity level during that time.
Now, there are definitely coaches out there with way more experience than what I have. The problem is, they’re probably too busy actually coaching to write an advice column.
Guess you’re stuck with me.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support”