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The woes of going back to school
eli cranor
Syndicated sports columnist Eli Cranor

Dear Athletic Support: The only reason we’re putting my daughter in school this year is because of sports. Is that wrong? She’ll be a seventh grader. So that means it’s her first year for school-organized sports. Her interest in athletics varies from season to season. I’m afraid if she misses a whole year of sports, she’ll fall so far behind she won’t be able to keep up and will lose interest for good. I was an athlete and the lessons sports taught me — discipline, toughness, perseverance — have served me well throughout my adult life. I don’t want my daughter to miss out on that. — First Year Mom

Dear First Year Mom: Sports are important. I read a statistic the other day that said ninety percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs participated in athletics through high school. So, you’re right to consider the impact of this strange, pandemic-altered school year on your daughter’s athletic career. I also think you’re right to worry she’ll fall behind if she misses the seventh-grade season.

If you’re wanting to do virtual, or even home school, there’s good news! Most school districts allow home-school kids to participate in interscholastic athletics. You just need to contact your state’s activity association and find out the guidelines. 

I’d be willing to bet your daughter will able to go to school virtually and still play in-person sports. Now you just need to keep your fingers — and toes — crossed that fall sports don’t get cancelled.  

Dear Athletic Support: My son is drained. After his first week of school, there’s just nothing left. This has been impacting his after-school activities, namely, football. He’s a senior and one of the best players on the team, but his coach is constantly griping at him. I’ve been to most of the practices, and despite the struggles these kids are facing right now, this coach still isn’t cutting them any slack. It took everything I had last Thursday to keep from getting out of my truck and giving that coach a piece of my mind. What do you think? Should coaches give their players a break since COVID and school are already wearing them out? 

—   Keeping My Cool

Dear Cool: Everything is different right now, and your son’s coach should keep that in mind. 

That being said, it’s not a coach’s job to take it easy on his players.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — athletic success is not the end goal for most young athletes. It’s not about the wins, or the awards, or getting your name in the paper (I’m not sure kids even care about this anymore). The biggest benefits sports have to offer are its inherent lessons. 

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to

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