Dear Athletic Support: I wasn’t really into sports but my kid wanted to play, and now she really loves it. Loves all the camaraderie, the friend group. I like seeing her work toward a goal and achieve it. But why does every sport have to be year round? Is there not a way to do sports without dedicating your life to it? If I wanted to be in a cult, I’d join a cult. I don’t want her to be in trouble with her coaches, but my daughter’s extracurricular activity is just one aspect of our family life. It’s like the coaches have to prove their worth by staying as busy as possible. So I guess the question is, how much is it going to hurt my daughter with the coaches when we occasionally miss things because we’re not going to rearrange our lives around this?
Dear Cultish: Fought this tooth and nail during my coaching days. I tried hard to get kids from other sports out for the football team. We needed all the help we could get. In the end, though, I was only able to pull a couple of players over to the gridiron.
I do think there’s been a shift over the last couple decades or so toward young athletes focusing on one sport at a much younger age. That shift has brought on its own set of problems, namely the cult-like mentality you mentioned in your question.
But here’s the deal: your daughter seems to be having a blast. Don’t let your perception of the coaches or the other parents negate the fact that she’s enjoying her chosen sport.
If your daughter is having fun, that’s all that really matters.
Dear Athletic Support: With only a few weeks left before school starts back again, my wife and I are considering taking a short vacation. Nothing crazy. Just maybe an extended weekend trip to the lake. The only problem is my son’s summer football workouts. He’d have to miss at least a day of workouts if we took this trip. With the football season just around the corner, is it worth it?
— Take A Trip
Dear Trip: It’s worth it. Summer workouts are important. Sure. But you only get so many chances to go on vacations with your kids. And in reality, the football season is still a good bit away.
A wise coach one explained to me the importance of rest — both mental and physical — for young athletes. He told me this after I’d explained to him all the work I had my players doing over the summer: team camps, 7 on 7 tournaments, daily workouts, etc.
According to this coach, the key is to have your team peak during the season. Not before it even starts.
If you apply this same philosophy to your son’s upcoming season, then a short weekend trip with the family might be exactly what he needs in order to be rested and ready when the season gets going in earnest.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to firstname.lastname@example.org