Dear Athletic Support: My daughter plays volleyball at a high school in Arkansas. This school is known as a football powerhouse around the state, but this year the boys aren’t doing so great. They’ve only won half their games, while my daughter’s volleyball team is undefeated! Nobody seems to care, though. We still have less than fifty people in the gym on game days. The football stadium, on the other hand, is packed! This really bothers me, and I know it bothers the girls more than they let on. One of the saddest parts is the girls all go to the football games. They cheer so loud for those boys every Friday night. But do the boys come to any of their volleyball games? Nope. Why does it have to be like this?
—Girls Need Fans Too
Dear Girls: My first thought here is don’t take this personally. I know that’s easier said than done, but the fact that there are fewer people at your daughter’s volleyball games (even if she’s having a great season) has less to do with the girls and more to do with the culture in your town.
Football, especially in the south, is a way of life. There are decades worth of history that one strong volleyball season cannot erase. I’m not saying this is right or wrong, I’m just telling you how it is. And this isn’t a boy versus girl problem, either.
You could say the same for almost any other sport compared to football. Even if the golf team were making a run at the state title, there just wouldn’t be as many people at the course as there are at the football stadium on Friday night.
Instead of focusing on the problem, maybe try concentrating on what you can do to make this better. Get the girls to go talk with the boys and see if they can convince them to come to the game. Football teams are huge, especially compared to most other sports. So if you convince fifty of the players to come cheer on the girls, maybe that would also draw some of the boys’ friends and their parents.
Dear Athletic Support: My kid’s coach won’t let him drink water unless he “earns it.” This is obviously absurd, but I don’t want to make my son quit over it. What can I do about it?
— Water Boy
Dear Water Boy: My dad used to tell me stories like this from back when he was playing football in the 1970s. I’m not sure if time has added a little flair to some of his tall tales, but Dad’s even told me about how players would drink from puddles and take “salt tablets.”
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since those days. If your kid’s coach is really withholding water as a reward, you need to notify the principal immediately.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author of the BOOKS MAKE BRAINZ TASTE BAD series. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to email@example.com or use the contact page on elicranor.com.