The Hard Facts About Student Athletes – From Every PerspectiveSep 1st, 2012 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: Activities for Homeschooled Kids, Featured Articles
A Parent’s Perspective
Your child may have professed an extreme interest or an exceptional talent in sports – or has just found a love for a particular extracurricular activity somewhere in the middle ground. But when sports participation becomes a bit of an obsession – or your child has shown mega-talent – how is a parent supposed to decide what’s right/wrong or too much/not enough? It’s a huge judgment call, and often an expensive one.
Recruiters and sports coaches say children are specializing in sports at younger ages and working out harder than ever before. Sporting companies are throwing lucrative football and baseball camps for children and parents are hiring private trainers for their athletically gifted children. Realistically, many of us do not have the money to go to such extremes. It can be a frustrating time of life.
A Child’s/Teen’s Perspective
Kids get into sports for a lot of different reasons. The best reason is simply because they love it – and it provides a healthy way to stay in excellent physical condition. Some kids or teens join sports for the attention it brings them, or to give their popularity a boost. This is not necessarily a terrible reason, as long as it is not interfering with their education, or their real and valid friendships. Some teens have visions of becoming professional athletes and making mega-bucks, but remember this only happens with a very small portion of people.
According To TeenInk.com, “Student athletes need to plan ahead for the possibility that they will not have a future in professional sports. Approximately 5.8% of high school athletes move on and play collegiate sports. Of that 5.8%, only a mere 3.1% of college athletes (who don’t get injured during the process) go on to actually play professional sports.” So that means that literally LESS than 2 kids out of 1000 – who even make it through college sports- will play in some professional league. And in the world of homeschooled athletes, this percentage is likely even smaller. But with a fresh new wave of homeschooled athletes who are making international headlines, such as Bridgeway’s Elizabeth Price, the possibility certainly exists.
And what if you hate all things sports related? You may want to investigate some solitary or individual sport that is not highly competitive. Being active is GOING to make you feel better about yourself, and it will also increase your confidence. Know that you are not alone – there are many successful people who are not sports-crazed, and these people have happy fulfilling lives.
But what do you do if you feel pressured to engage in sports activities that are not fun for you? Or maybe you just don’t want to participate, but you are being made fun of? Or you feel as if you are hugely disappointing a sports-fanatic parent? Not cool. This is absolutely the WRONG reason to engage in sports activities, and you simply don’t have to do it.
A University’s Perspective
According to The Sports Journal, “Athletics has a history of importance in American society. Across the country, newspapers have devoted entire sections and televisions have created entire channels dedicated to covering the latest updates on sports. Attention has not always been solely about games and competitions; the spotlight has recently been redirected to academics. This is quite a change since 1983, when only 25 (out of more than 16,000) high school districts had even minimal academic standards as a condition of high school sports (Edwards, 1984). Today, athletes wanting to participate in intercollegiate athletics must meet specific academic criteria before being added to a sport’s roster.”
In short, a student athlete, no matter how talented, cannot let his or her academics slide. According to head Gymnastics Coach Jeff Thompson at Penn State University, “Academics are extremely important in our scholarship decision-making process. Although many colleges can guarantee admission if the Potential Student Athlete (PSA) meets the minimum NCAA standards, others have strict admissions policies with only the top students being admissible – regardless of athletic ability. The best thing PSAs can do for themselves is to take school seriously, study hard and make good grades throughout high school.”
A Doctor’s Perspective
The effect that concussions can have on young brains later in life is still an area of growing research. Now, some of that uncertainty has prompted Dr. Robert Cantu of the Boston University School of Medicine to suggest it’s time to limit contact in youth sports. Research has shown how concussions can be far more dangerous to children, adolescents, and teenagers whose brains are still developing. Repeat concussions – especially ones that occur during contact sports such as football or soccer – that happen again before the first one has a chance to fully heal – can have very bad results.
“It’s controversial, no question but weekly, I see these kids who have been injured and I see individuals with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) at an early age,” Cantu said. “I think it calls for more thought and reflection. We have pitch counts for Little League baseball players. That’s to prevent a ligament injury that is repairable. But we don’t have hit counts to the head of children playing youth sports.”
You’ve got it – once again it’s a family meeting kind of judgment call. The best possible thing to do is weigh EVERYONE’S perspective thoroughly before making any life-changing decisions regarding your child and their sports participation, or lack thereof. And remember that a solid education must always remain at the forefront of the picture for a successful athletic career to follow.