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athletic support by eli cranor Athletic Support: Hunting or Football?
September 12, 2021

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Please use the “Contact” page at elicranor.com to send in questions for “Athletic Support.”


Dear Athletic Support: My son is a sophomore on the high school football team. His first game is the Friday before Labor Day. There’s no chance he’s getting to play, not for the varsity squad, but his coach is requiring all players to come back for practice on Monday even though there is no school. We’re serious dove hunters, and we always go out of town for a big hunt on Labor Day. Do you think his coach would care if he missed practice on Monday? — Daddy Dove

Dear Dove: I can remember multiple instances in the coaches’ offices from my past where we would sit around and discuss exactly this sort of question. We were trying to figure out which kids were committed, which ones truly cared, even if they were second string.

As a sophomore, your son is one of the youngest players on the team. His lack of playing time might not have anything to do with talent. It could simply be an issue of experience. In other words, the other guys out on that field were sophomores at some point. They all paid their dues.

I would urge you to be wary of sending the wrong message to your son. He signed up to be a part of a team. In doing so, he agreed to be in attendance at games — and practices.

Imagine if all the boys that weren’t starters decided it wasn’t worth their time to attend practice. There would be no scout look, no way to prepare for next week’s opponent. Don’t forget football’s most important lesson: teamwork.

You may be thinking, “But it’s just one practice!” Let me remind you that the second time you do anything is always easier than the first. If your son establishes a pattern of skipping practice, it could form a habit that bleeds over into his adult life, and possibly even his career.

Besides, opening day of dove season (at least in Arkansas) is Sunday. Go out and have a blast early Sunday morning, kill a limit or two, but just make sure you get done in time for church.

Dear Athletic Support: My daughter plays three different sports. It seems like there’s always newer and nicer equipment to buy. I get the feeling all the gear is more about parents showing off instead of actually giving the kids what they need. I want my daughter to feel loved and supported. How can I go about creating reasonable expectations for her without being a spoilsport? — Budgeting Mother

Dear Budgeting: Buy your daughter only what she needs. New shoes for basketball season? Sure. Kneepads for volleyball? Snatch them up (if they’re not already provided by the school). Keep it simple and focus on the essentials.

It’s really no different from proper spending practices in other areas of your daughter’s life. Every time the latest iPhone comes out, do you run to the store with your debit card in hand? I hope not.

There is power in restraint and joy to be found in waiting. Make sure your daughter is properly equipped, but don’t go overboard. It’s a slippery slope. She’ll be better off in the end if she’s taught to be thankful for all you’ve already given her.

Previous columns:

Laundry Stinks
Fit more important than price when it comes to cleats
Facebook ads and too many practices
Coach pushing vaccine on players
Youth sports like a cult
Coach’s pregame speech too crazy for kids
Championship rings and multiple sweatbands — too much?
Working out over the Dead Weeks?
Summer School Blues
Practices running late causing problems
Softball games going past midnight
Are athletes getting better with age?
Are team sports a vital part of childhood?
Summer schedule way too serious
What if I can’t afford private speed camps?
Quarterback lacks speed
Should pro athletes talk politics?
How to take a hit
Wrestling in college, what’s the point?
Removal of mask requirement could cost us games
Overachieving daughter stinks at sports
Why are we playing all the small schools?
Freshmen don’t make varsity, usually
Kids have changed, haven’t they?
Esports and disc golf bigger than football?
Little pitchers have big ears
Pregame music offensive
Fouls in girls basketball
Red Shirting
Coach makes political post
7th grade girls basketball woes
Multi-million-dollar buyouts don’t make sense
Private schools have the upper hand
Best of 2020

Athletic Support Columns 2020

Outside of athletics, kids’ brains are also at risk. Who knows what sort of impact virtual learning will have on their cognition and critical thinking skills. In this regard, I offer one simple tool — a good book! And luckily, I know just the book for kids struggling with the shift to virtual learning:


books make brainz taste badOkay, you caught me… I’m the author of this book. It was published last week and awarded a #1 New Release ranking on Amazon. BMBTB deals directly with the same topic covered in this column, except in a much more lighthearted, kid-friendly way (zombie teachers and brain-munching screens!)

If you end up purchasing this book for your children or grandchildren, I only have one final suggestion — ask them to read it while standing up!

Eli Cranor's new book Books Make Brainz Taste Bad has just been released. ZOMBIES HATE BOOKS! Especially the zombie teachers at Haven Middle School. That's why they're using VR headsets to fry kids' brainz. Luckily, Dash Storey knows how to save his classmates from the zombie teachers—BOOKS! They make brainz taste bad!

"Eli Cranor has an almost unbeatable advantage. He can remember how it felt to think like a twelve-year-old and he can see the very same events like the adult he is. Don't try to resist this book!"
- Jack Butler, Pulitzer-Prize nominated author


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