Dear Athletic Support: My son is a wrestler. He’s dead set on wrestling in college, but he’s not quite good enough to make the team for a big school. So that means his only options are wrestling at DII and DIII schools. I know he’s plenty smart to get into a bigger college, which would give him many more opportunities. He loves wrestling — and I do too — but I don’t want him to sacrifice so much for a sport that will not pay his tuition. We even went to do a visit at one of these smaller schools and there were barely any fans in the stands for the matches. Is there anything I can do to convince him to consider all his options before making such a big choice?
—Wrestling With It
Dear Wrestling: There’s more to college athletics than earning a scholarship. I could go on and on about the camaraderie and all the other cool aspects of collegiate sports, but the main thing your son will get out of this experience will be a lesson in discipline.
College athletes work full time jobs, and I don’t mean at McDonalad’s. They take full course loads while also putting crazy amounts of time into their game. I’ll never forget the first semester of my freshman year. We had three-a-days (yes, three practices in one day; it was a different time) the two weeks leading up to the start of school.
Once the semester was underway, I had classes all through the day until it was time for meetings. We watched film and went over practice for about an hour. Then practiced for three hours. Then went to eat and had to come back for two hours of study hall five nights a week. All of this ended around nine o’clock each night.
That experience taught me a heck of a lot about discipline, and if your son wrestles in college, he’ll get the same education too.
Dear Athletic Support: Do you remember that Disney movie called, The Mighty Ducks? It was one of my favorites growing up. There’s a reboot of that show on Disney + now. It’s set in the uber competitive world of travel sports and hits on many of the same themes you write about in this column. The whole hook of the show is about a woman who wants to create a place where kids can just have fun playing hockey again. I’m a big fan of your column and how you always promote putting the “fun” back in sports. Just wanted to write in and ask if you’d seen this new series?
—Duck at Heart
Dear Duck: I haven’t seen the new Mighty Ducks series, but I have heard about it. A friend of mine actually told me about it just the other day.
My daughter loves nothing more than homemade popcorn and “Movie Night.” So I bet I’ll be watching this one before long.
One thing I’ll add is that this stuff I write about — the same themes Disney seems to have incorporated into this new series — isn’t going away anytime soon, unless we make the change ourselves.
The fact that Disney has made a movie about over-involved sport parents really says something, doesn’t it?
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to firstname.lastname@example.org