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athletic support by eli cranor

Athletic Support: Silver lining for post pandemic sports

Dear Athletic Support: I’ve coached both my son’s and daughter’s youth sports teams since they first started playing. At different points throughout my coaching career, I’ve often caught myself getting a little carried away. I’ve been “that” dad. The one who cares way too much. The one screaming from the dugout or stomping up and down the sideline. But now — after having my priorities readjusted due to COVID-19 — I plan to refocus my coaching and parenting philosophy. We started practice a week ago, and it was just so durn fun to get back out on the field. I couldn’t stop smiling. I guess this isn’t much of a question, but after reading your last two columns blasting coaches and parents for wanting to get back to sports as soon as possible, I just wanted to write in and let you know that we’re not all crazy. I understand the risks, but I can’t imagine missing any more time with my kids and sports. And like I said, I think that this break has been good for me. Maybe it’ll be good for you too.

— Crazy Daddy Ball

Dear Daddy Ball: Let me start by saying I am in no way against kids returning to sports. My only wish is that parents and coaches will adhere to the proper guidelines. I want sports back just as bad as you do. I also want all young athletes to be as safe as possible.

With that being said, what you’ve just outlined for me, your “priority readjustment,” is perfect. It’s basically at the core of every Athletic Support column I’ve written over the last year.

Every parent, every youth-league coach, all those crazy-eyed, screaming mommas and daddies in the stands — they all need to take a chill pill.

A big one.

And though all sorts of terrible things have come as a result of COVID-19 (hopefully we’re through the worst of it), maybe one silver lining will be that people will begin to see sports — especially youth sports — for what they really are, what they were meant to be:


I dream of day when parents are more worried about their kids’ emotional wellbeing and overall happiness than how many points they scored or hits they had in their last game.

Maybe this pandemic will readjust everyone’s point of view. Maybe we’ll all be seeing sports as a recreational activity again instead of a ticket to a scholarship or small-town fame.

My fear, though, is that it won’t take long for people to forget. A month or so into the upcoming season (if it’s not postponed), what will our view on sports be? Will we all still be thankful to just be back on the field, enjoying the time we’re spending with our children? Or will the weight of competition prove too much and we’ll go right back to treating a kids’ game as if it were life and death?

I don’t know, but I’m really glad to hear you’re taking this stance as you make your way back onto the practice field. I hope you enjoy the time you’ve been gifted. I hope it lasts. Long after the pandemic is over, I hope you’re still smiling.

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:

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 April 26, 2020

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