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athletic support by eli cranor

Athletic Support: Back to school woes

Dear Athletic Support:
The only reason we’re putting my daughter in school this year is because of sports. Is that wrong? She’ll be a seventh grader. So that means it’s her first year for school-organized sports. Her interest in athletics varies from season to season. I’m afraid if she misses a whole year of sports, she’ll fall so far behind she won’t be able to keep up and will lose interest for good. I was an athlete and the lessons sports taught me — discipline, toughness, perseverance — have served me well throughout my adult life. I don’t want my daughter to miss out on that.

— First Year Mom

Dear First Year Mom: Sports are important. I read a statistic the other day that said ninety percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs participated in athletics through high school. So, you’re right to consider the impact of this strange, pandemic-altered school year on your daughter’s athletic career. I also think you’re right to worry she’ll fall behind if she misses the seventh-grade season.

If you’re wanting to do virtual, or even home school, there’s good news! Most school districts allow home-school kids to participate in interscholastic athletics. You just need to contact your state’s activity association and find out the guidelines.

I’d be willing to bet your daughter will able to go to school virtually and still play in-person sports. Now you just need to keep your fingers — and toes — crossed that fall sports don’t get cancelled.

Dear Athletic Support: My son is drained. After his first week of school, there’s just nothing left. This has been impacting his after-school activities, namely, football. He’s a senior and one of the best players on the team, but his coach is constantly griping at him. I’ve been to most of the practices, and despite the struggles these kids are facing right now, this coach still isn’t cutting them any slack. It took everything I had last Thursday to keep from getting out of my truck and giving that coach a piece of my mind. What do you think? Should coaches give their players a break since COVID and school are already wearing them out?

— Keeping My Cool

Dear Cool: Everything is different right now, and your son’s coach should keep that in mind.

That being said, it’s not a coach’s job to take it easy on his players.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — athletic success is not the end goal for most young athletes. It’s not about the wins, or the awards, or getting your name in the paper (I’m not sure kids even care about this anymore). The biggest benefits sports have to offer are its inherent lessons.

So, yes, things are weird right now. They’re upside down and backwards. But many people are still having to go to work. They’re still having to be husbands and wives and parents despite the chaos.

If this is the lesson your son’s coach is teaching with his hard-nosed approach, then let it ride a bit and see what happens. If he’s just being belligerent and nasty for no reason, then by all means, go and give him a piece of your mind.

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

Previous Athletic Support Columns:

Football guidelines a breeze compared to band
What to do if your season stalls
Left behind
Travel ball leads to constipation
Collegiate sports for fun or money?
No right answer
Sunburns not part of the game
Summertime soreness
Vulnerability is key in uncertain times
Sick of COVID-19
Racial tensions rise as sports gear up again
Silver lining for post pandemic sports
Wearing masks to practice
Coach disappears after season is cancelled
What happens to the team if a player gets COVID-19?
Will there be football in the fall?
With sports gone, son’s grades tanking
Lost without sports
Teddy bears and tessellations
Cornavirus? We’ve got games to play!
Girlfriend getting in the way
A parent’s role when sports are over
Talk to your grandkids, carefully
At what age should sports stop being fun?
What ever happened to going door to door?
Lack of respect for track
Should my son take supplements?
I need your help
Help! My daughter wants to play football
Transferring to a smaller school: the good, the bad, and the ugly
What’s that smell? It’s not as bad as you think
A break from school but not from sports
Should a coach pray with his team?
Coach tells player not to shoot
Do nice guys (and girls) really finish last?
Coach cancels post-season awards banquet
No cellphones in the locker room!
Fake scholarship signing?
Withholding football as punishment
Sick and tired of losing
Late bloomer, a blessing or a curse?
Scholarship hopes dead, now what?
Is my son a butterfly chaser?
Don’t force sports on your kids
Hunting or Football?
Beat the Heat
Idle Hands
Coach’s son gets special attention

Published August 29, 2020

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