As I raise two boys, one who is already showing so much promise in athletics, and trending a fixation on playing in college or “going pro”, and he’s only six, I’m torn between supporting his dreams and what I know about playing on the college level and the hard truths about “going pro”. And how even the most gifted athletes often don’t fully realize their “sports dreams” due to things completely out of their control. I know some former guy athletes now who have swallowed that bitter pill and it doesn’t go down easy.
I wouldn’t discourage any young person from going after their “sports dreams” (hey, it could happen) but I also don’t believe in pushing kids so hard all their young lives in only one direction (like sports or anything for that matter) and not allowing kids to have myriad experiences. That’s what I want for my boys, a renaissance.
And I know for many young athletes this may be the only ticket to their education and that is fine, and many young athletes use this as a stepping stone to the pros, and that’s fine too, but as I talk to my son about the balance between education and athletics, while I won’t deny him the chance to play (as long as his grades are exceptional, not just good, exceptional and he has a good attitude about the game), I also am very honest with him about the odds, about injuries, and about priorities. I only tell him so much now because he’s so young but as he gets older my husband and I will reveal more and more truths to him, and he can decide what he wants to do with that information. I’m not trying to squelch his “hoop dreams” in any way, I just want him to have full disclosure, and have the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, emotionally in a number of different areas and to know he has options.