"I mean, the kid has to learn to read, doesn't he? Really, what are the chances that he'll go pro even though he has remarkable ability?" Well, Mom and Dad, the odds of a higher schooler making it into the pros is slim. I'm talking really slim. But, obviously, some do. Even my clients are now in the pros and doing very well! They are ethical men who have tremendous talent and have their heads on straight. (You make us all proud to be part of your team!) The odds of getting into the NFL is 1 in 6,000; the MLB, 1 in 4,000; the NBA, 1 in 10,000 and the odds of a soccer player getting a full ride into a Division I or II school is 1 in 90. The odds of needing competent reading skills to be a self-sufficient, satisfied citizen in our society? You already know the answer to that one.
The odds are great that you will need to be able to read to fill out an application for a job, pass the written driving test, understand enough about the voters' pamphlet to make an informed decision and understand basic agreements to buy a refrigerator, for example. YOU NEED TO READ to be a part of the economy.
In light of my "all caps" emphasis here, what are parents to do? After all, kids need to be part of "their herd". They need to play! They need to develop the skills that team play offers. They need to be outdoors and learning the skills of being part of a team, learning from coaches, socializing, dealing with disappointment and triumph and keeping their commitments to the team. All of these skills are necessary for all aspects of life!
It's all about balance. If you know, going into the school year, that your child has learning, emotional or behavioral needs, you can plan in advance and help him/her choose an activity that will allow them to keep both the educational support plan and the sports going. The good news is that this grueling schedule is "seasonal" and you can recruit the teacher to understand your child's global needs and to be flexible until the season is over. For my college kids, I ask them to take as many "basket-weaving" classes as possible for the period in which they play sports. Taking all rigorous classes is foolish. My college athletes seem to get a great deal of consideration for their participation in sports, which, of course, tends to bring universities a whole lotta cash.
But then, I get those kids who I diagnose with many problems during the school year and the school blames their poor academic performance on "too much sports time". Let me get this straight. This kid is dying in school and shines on the field and you want to disqualify him from football because he is failing? Great, let's just add depression to the mix. Let's just gut kick this kid and punish him for the fact that you never saw his dyslexia and kept promoting him to the point that he is now in the 10th grade and reads like a 4th grader and somehow, that's HIS fault?!?! Oh, this is so not happening on my watch.
It says a lot about us parents when 37% of the kids wished we weren't there! Parents, don't disappoint your kids. Remember, positive attitude and genuine effort are the goals, nothing else matters. Nothing.
Considering that 15% of kids play sports reluctantly, but they still play and 20% play to improve their skills, there's still hope!
Remember that not all kids have to play soccer, football, field hockey, basketball, la crosse or tennis. Maybe track, golf, water polo, swimming or diving may be their "thing". In some parts of the country, schools have sailing or surfing teams. What about archery, wrestling or fencing? They are Olympic sports! (Wrestling fans! Wrestling will be reinstated for the 2020 Olympic games! Yeah, baby!) Take into consideration "when" the season is going, the time commitments, the games, the travel, the "reputation" of the coaches and whether or not try outs are required. Is there a lot of gear to buy on your limited family budget? What about the chances for injury? What about the chances that your kid can actually make it onto a team? Does your kid's personality style and processing skills "match" the sport they want to play?
Like I said, "Kids, sports and education. What's a parent to do?" The answer, "The best you can to give your kid a little bit of everything they need and want". Good luck out there!
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