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athletic support by eli cranor Athletic Support: Are team sports a vital part of childhood?
June 6, 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 husband and I have two daughters, ages 7 and 10. They are both very tall for their age so we enroll them in sports like basketball and volleyball when offered. They enjoy these activities once they get there, but we end up having to force them to follow through with the commitment. How far do we go in pushing them? Looking back, I was a little lazy and I wish my parents had pushed me more. My husband views team sports as a vital part of childhood, and I do not disagree, to a point.

— Dragging Them To Practice

Dear Dragging: I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating here: My dad used to make me throw one hundred pitches a day all through the summers of my youth. Yes, this included weekends and vacations. Yes, I hated it.

In the end, I didn’t go on to become a professional baseball player. I did, however, have a decently successful athletic career, and even more importantly, I took the lessons I learned throwing those hundred pitches and applied them to many aspects of my professional life.

Without sounding too cliché, I’m a grinder. Regardless of what I’m doing, I give it my best. Looking back, I can’t help but think I learned that lesson from Dad and his bucket of weathered baseballs.

For your situation, I’d urge you and your husband to lay some ground rules when it comes to your daughters and their athletic activities. One good rule might be to always make them finish a season if they start it.

On top of that, you could also sit down and have a discussion with your girls about the sports they actually want to play. At ages 7 and 10, they’re probably too young to know what is best for them in the long run, but I’d be willing to bet there are certain sports they like more than others.

Compile a list of all the sports offered in or around your community. There might be activities other than volleyball and basketball that your girls would really enjoy. A little autonomy goes a long way, especially when it comes to kids.

Dear Athletic Support: Fundraisers are getting out of hand. Every time I look up, my kids are bringing home another fundraiser activity. We’ve sold coupon cards and cookie dough. The last one was just some sort of email list that straight up asked people to donate money. If we don’t participate in these fundraisers, could it impact my kids’ playing time?

- No Fun

Dear No Fun: The short answer is, no, I don’t think your kids’ involvement — or lack thereof — will impact their playing time.

However, I would urge you to think twice before you toss that coupon card aside. Fundraisers directly impact the team. The money is most often used for “fun stuff,” like summer trips for the kids, new gear, and anything extra that doesn’t fit neatly inside the coach’s predetermined school budget.

If your kids aren’t school age, then fundraising is even more important.

Previous columns:

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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