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athletic support by eli cranor Athletic Support: Summer schedule way too serious
May 30, 2021

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.”

Dear Athletic Support: My son is wrapping up his first year of school-sanctioned athletics. He played football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and loved running the mile and pole vaulting this spring. My son is by no means one of the best athletes in his grade. Not by a longshot. But he did really enjoy this past year. Last week, I was just given the summer schedule for football and basketball by his coaches. Wowzers. They have a lot of stuff planned! There’s literally a camp or a tournament almost every week of the summer. We already have vacations planned (and paid for) on some of these dates. I’m worried if my son doesn’t make it to all the scheduled events, his playing time will get docked. I also feel like maybe this is too much for an 8th grader. If I force my son to complete this extreme schedule, I’m afraid he might burn out on athletics altogether. What should we do?

— Fun Dad

Dear Fun: When I was coaching I made an annual calendar. It listed every single event for the year, including the summer. I tried to get this out as early in the spring as possible, hoping to give my players’ parents enough time to plan ahead.

Despite all my planning, I still had players miss. It drove me crazy. I can vividly remember sitting in the coaches’ office, going on and on about how one of our players was taking a week-long vacation instead of attending one of our 7-on-7 tournaments.

Looking back on it now, I feel a little embarrassed. My heart was in the right place. I wanted to do things “right.” I wanted to win. But I wasn’t considering the big picture.

The big picture is that family comes first, especially in the summer. Vacations are where memories are made, so go have fun.

Keep in mind, however, that missing summer activities could impact your son’s playing time. I say “could” because if he’s one of the best players on the team, it won’t matter at all — he’ll still play. If he’s one of the worst, he’ll ride the pine regardless.

If he’s a border player, though, and he’s equally as good as a player who’s attended every practice/tournament all summer long, then that other kid will get the spot. That’s just the way it works.

In regard to burnout, I think that all depends on your son. Junior high athletics is more serious than 7th grade. More time is required the older an athlete gets. And, honestly, that’s the way it should be. In order to be the best at anything, you have to practice. A world-famous concert pianist doesn’t get to the top by taking summers off. The same is true in football.

You mentioned your son wasn’t “the best athlete.” If he’s in it just to have fun, then by all means, let him have fun. Go on vacation. Make it to all the summer practices you can, but don’t be surprised if your son is riding the bench when the season starts.

Call For Questions:
It’s that time of year again, the time when I have to use valuable column space to ask you — my valued and trusted reader — to take a moment and send me some questions.

Questions don’t have to be long. A couple of sentences are all I need. And I will always work with you to make sure it’s anonymous. That seems to be the biggest concern for most folks when they write in. But remember, I always use a made up name at the end of each question. I’ll even change some of the information if I feel like it might give away too much.

I’m guessing some of my readers don’t have kids involved in athletics, and that’s fine too. You can still send in questions!

If you enjoy reading my column each week, please remember it cannot go on without questions. So send ‘em on!

Previous columns:

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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