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It’s not about winning in seventh-grade basketball
eli cranor
Syndicated sports columnist Eli Cranor

Dear Athletic Support: My daughter’s seventh-grade basketball team is bad. Like so bad we don’t even score a single bucket until the other team puts their second-string in. When we do finally score, the crowd goes crazy. It almost seems like charity. I can’t stand it, but the girls really get a kick out of the applause. They pump their fists and smile like we just won the conference championship.

My daughter has started picking up on my negativity lately. She even asked me why I wasn’t smiling after the games.

I couldn’t believe it. A part of me just wanted to scream, “Because you lost!” I didn’t do that, though. I knew better.

But I know she’ll ask me again, and I’m not sure what to say.

—Winning Dear Winning: Sounds

to me like you don’t have much to worry about at all (other than screaming at your daughter about losing — don’t do that).

You must remember that we’re talking about seventh-grade basketball. If your daughter and her teammates are having fun, then half the battle has already been won.

So much can change from seventh grade to varsity. Girls mature. They get taller and more coordinated. There’s no way to tell which players will be the best by the time they’re seniors.

The last thing you want is for young players to quit basketball. If girls aren’t having fun in the early stages of the game, then they won’t make it to the varsity level.

If your daughter corners you again and asks why you don’t seem to be enjoying the games, maybe try leveling with her.

Tell her that you’re competitive, and it’s hard for you to be excited about losing, but you’re working on it. You might also add that it makes you happy

to see her so happy, regardless of the scoreboard.

Dear Athletic Support: I always try to start the new year off by getting my kids to read more.

My son is in college. My daughter’s a senior in high school. They are both athletes with very busy schedules. Do you have any book recommendations that might be a good fit for them? They’re not the biggest readers.

Mostly, they tend to like nonfiction and stuff like that. Sorry. I know that’s not much to work with.

—Reading Rainbow Dear Reading: Have you ever heard of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”?

It’s not a page turner by any means, but I’ve found it incredibly helpful over the years. There’s no better book about how to structure your time, something a high school senior and a college student could definitely use!

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. His debut novel, “Don’t Know Tough,” is available for preorder wherever books are sold. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to



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