Archive for October, 2016

TRENDS IN SPORTS: The Joy (and Benefits) of Running

Next Sunday morning is the 40th anniversary of the running of the NYC Marathon, and in what has become something of an annual tradition on my radio show, I like to spend at least one Sunday each year talking about the sport of running.

The truth is, among all the various athletic endeavors you should definitely introduce your son or daughter to, clearly the simple act of running is one of the most important.

Why? Because it’s so healthy for them including their physical and mental health…because they can do it for the rest of their lives once their other HS and college athletic careers in their other sports are over…running or jogging is relatively inexpensive compared to many sports….and in a world of highly competitive team sports where kids have to try out and are cut from teams, pretty much anyone can run for their school team and be competitive. In other words, there are so many really good things to be gained about when it comes to running that I feel strongly that all sports parents should encourage their kids to simply enjoy running.

I will tell you that when I was a kid, I loved to run sprints…40 yards, 60 yards and 100 yards…..and I was pretty good at them too. But long-distance running was not something I enjoyed doing.

And yet, as I’ve gotten older, I have found that I look forward these days to just go out and jog. To be able to go out and run 2 or 3 miles, or even just to walk fast for an hour, that’s become a real joy.

About a year ago, when I having issues with my right leg and had to have my hip operated on, I found myself becoming jealous – envious – of seeing people of all ages out for a jog. Why? Because my leg hurt so much that I couldn’t run any more. And I missed it greatly. Thankfully, my hip surgery went well, and I’m back to my routine of jogging several times a week. And it’s great.

Those months when I couldn’t run made me very aware that I should never take the most basic skill of sports – running – for granted. And either should you. Or your kids.

Which brings me to the guest from my show this AM – Coach Joel Pasternack, one of the most respected running coaches in the New York City area.

He’s been running for 51 years…Joel is currently 66….and he’s based in Clifton, NJ.

In all those years he’s run 125,260 miles. In the 1974 Boston marathon Joel placed 28th in a time of 2 hours 25 minutes and three seconds…. In the 1976 NYC marathon he placed 25th in a time of 2 hours 27 minutes and 37 seconds. Overall, Joel has run a total of 16 marathons between 1971- 1991.

Joel has coached for 41 years at the youth, high school and college level. These days he’s coaching a middle and high school team, two adult running clubs, some town recreation programs and some private clients. You can go to web site if you’d like to find out more.

Joel always reminds parents to tell kids when they first start out to go at a slow pace. No need to sprint out to the front of the pack. Run at your own pace. He advises that if you’re running with a partner, you should be able to have a conversation with the other runner without having to huff and puff. If you can’t, then you’re running at too fast a pace.

He uses the comparison to the fable of the Turtle and the Hare. The Hare runs out fast, but soon runs out of gas. Meanwhile, the Turtle runs at a slow and steady pace, and eventually wins the race. Joel feels that’s a perfect lesson for any beginning runners.

He also says that kids just starting out should not run long distances more than three times a week. That sort of surprised me. But Joel made it clear that developing legs and joints should not be stressed early in a kid’s career.

But overall, the act of running is a wonderful exercise, and even if your son or daughter is not competitive at it, it’s still one of the best, and least expensive, sports that one can truly enjoy and benefit from. As Joel points out, when he first ran in the NYC Marathon in the 1970s, there were only 3,000 runners. These days, there are 50,000 runners and there’s a long waiting list. Clearly the sport has caught on in a big, big way. And it should be no surprise that the most popular sport in HS across the USA these days is NOT football or basketball or soccer – but track and field and cross country running.

GETTING CUT: What Today’s Parents Have to Keep in Mind

As we enter into the cooler months of the school year, that means that active try outs for basketball and ice hockey teams are looming. Both sports tend to be very competitive in terms of eager and hopeful kids who want to make the squad, especially in the middle school, travel team, or high school levels.

But here’s the problem. With both of these popular sports, making a team is extremely competitive simply because so few kids can play in a game at a time. In basketball, of course, only five can play. With ice hockey, there’s the goalie and five skaters. True, at least with ice hockey, skaters constantly go out and take the ice in short shifts during a game for a minute or two, but even then, very few hockey teams carry more than 15-16 players. And with power plays or penalty kills, it’s usually only the top or more talented players who grab the lion’s share of playing time. Everybody else on the bench sits and watches.

And with basketball, the coach usually plays his or her top five boys or girls in much the same manner. The other kids sit on the bench and wait, hopefully to get a few minutes of playing time.

Mind you – these are the kids who made the team. Every kid on the squad has talent, and had to perform well during the tryouts to be good enough to make the team. So while they’re focusing on what they can do in practice to gain the coach’s eye to get more playing time, at least they’re a member of the team.

But what about the kids who don’t even make it that far? What happens to them?

In other words, what happens to those who get cut?


For some, especially at the younger ages, say 9 or 10, trying out for the team and not making it is disappointing, but perhaps not crushing. They like the sport, but they fortunately have other interests in life that they move on to.

But for many others, especially for those kids who love basketball or ice hockey, not making the team at an early age is not only devastating in its impact, but it often puts them in a difficult dilemma, e.g. do they keep on playing that sport? Do they just give up? What do you say, as a parent, that is the right mix of encouragement as well as reality?

And of course, how can it be fair for a kid at 10 years ago to be seen as not being on the fast-track, like one’s friends? So many kids go through adolescence and then go through a major growth spurt that it’s unconscionable (and unbelievable) when they’re 18 to think they were cut as a youngster. Even worse, sadly, too many kids, when cut at an early age, just decide to walk away from the sport and vow never to come back to it.

To me, this is all a horrible shame. And it’s something that never happened to aspiring athletes a generation ago, long before there were travel teams and modified teams. In those days, kids (and their parents) really didn’t have to deal with the excruciating agony of try outs until, perhaps, the kid reached 9th grade. By then, by age 14, most kids are pretty well versed in their self-assessment, and they can see for themselves how their athletic talents compare with their peers. But at age 9 or 10, kids just don’t have that cognitive ability.

It’s often observed that as time marches on, we make more and more progress in our society. But when it comes to youngsters in sports and seeing their dreams get crushed when they get cut at a young age, I really feel we’re going backwards.

ABUSIVE COACHES: Losing One’s Perspective During the Post-Game Handshake

When Coaches’ Misconduct Disrupts Post-Game Handshake Lines

By Doug Abrams

Late last month, the Omaha World-Herald reported that police ticketed a 52-year-old coach for suspected assault and battery on a 10-year-old opponent as the teams traded high-fives in the post-game handshake line after a flag football game. According to writer Kevin Cole, the Omaha coach (whose team had just lost decisively) grabbed the player by the collar and nearly lifted him off his feet. The coach allegedly told police afterwards that he “snapped and lost his temper” because the player had slapped his hand “too hard.” “You will respect me!,” the coach told the boy.

The local youth football association immediately banned the coach, and prosecutors contemplated whether also to charge him with suspicion of disorderly conduct. I have found no later media accounts of the legal outcome, but the incident that Cole reports sheds light on coaches’ leadership roles moments after youth teams have finished a game.

“Models of Good and Acceptable Behavior”

In a variety of youth sports, most post-game handshake lines proceed without incident as they reinforce the sportsmanship and mutual respect that youth leagues and interscholastic competition strive to teach competitors. Last month’s Omaha incident is not the first disruption, however, nor is it the first disruption instigated by a coach who lacked self-control expected from a team leader.

In a handshake line after a pee wee hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2012, for example, the winning team’s 48-year-old coach intentionally stuck out his leg and tripped a 13-year-old opponent, whom the coach had berated from the bench throughout the game.  The player broke his wrist when he fell onto a teammate. A spectator’s video, which quickly went viral, showed the coach pointing menacingly at the boy immediately after the tripping. (1:12).

The Vancouver coach pleaded guilty to one count of assault, and the court sentenced him to 15 days in jail, to be served on consecutive weekends. “Society,” said the judge, “will not tolerate the assault of children by adults.” He called coach’s sentence “a signal to other parents heavily involved in the sporting activities of their children that they must be seen as models of good and acceptable behavior and not as instigators of violence and of riotous behavior.”

“Follow the Leader”

A Kentucky school superintendent recently said this about the value of post-game handshake lines: “Teaching our students to win and lose graciously are life lessons that we hope and expect coaches to embrace.” The superintendent urged principals and athletic directors to “[a]sk coaches to remember that very few of our students will be college and professional athletes. However, ALL of them need to be able to demonstrate character at crucial times.”  The point is that most men and women face periodic setbacks throughout adulthood, and that resilience learned on the playing field can increase the prospects for overcoming adversity.

When they explain to players the value of post-game handshakes, coaches can share wisdom from Olympic gold medal swimmer Amy Van Dyken. “The most important lesson I’ve learned from sports,” she says, “is how to be not only a gracious winner, but a good loser as well.  Not everyone wins all the time; as a matter of fact, no one wins all the time. Winning is the easy part; losing is really tough. But, you learn more from one loss than you do from a million wins.  You learn a lot about sportsmanship.”

“It’s really tough to shake the hand of someone who just beat you,” Van Dyken specifies, “and it’s even harder to do it with a smile.  If you can learn to do this and push through that pain, you will remember what that moment is like the next time you win and have a better sense of how those competitors around you feel. This experience will teach you a lot on and off the field!”

The title of “youth coach” confers responsibility to set an example before, during, and after games. Coaching resembles a process of “follow the leader” because players learn from what they watch. Even after a game when the team has come up short, coaches participating in handshake lines need to remain above the fray because actions speak louder than words. Coaches teach self-control by maintaining self-control.


Sources: Kevin Cole,  Youth Football Coach Accused of Attacking 10-Year-Old After Boy High-Fives Him ‘Too Hard”, Omaha World-Herald, Sept. 30, 2016; Hockey Coach Jailed For Tripping Child, Guelph Mercury (Ontario, Canada), Feb. 27, 2013; Sam Adams, Hockey Coach Jailed For Tripping 13-Year-Old Player As Teams Shake Hands After Junior Game, MailOnline (England), Feb. 27, 2013; Backlash Ensues After No Handshake Directive, (Oct. 10, 2013); Amy Van Dyken Quotes, Backlash ensues after no handshake directive Backlash ensues after no handshake directive Backlash ensues after no handshake directive (quoting Van Dyken)


i had a very strong response to last week’s show and blog posting regarding HS kids taking a knee to protest racial oppression in this country. I was impressed with the smart comments  on both sides of the issue, all dealing with the balancing of patriotic respect for our country v. one’s guarantee of freedom of speech.

But as the calls and emails poured in, one theme was very constant. Specifically, what are the correct or proper or legal parameters should coaches and teachers and athletic directors follow? That is, if confronted with this kind of situation, how should one react, if at all?

Some of the questions that came my way included:

1 – If a HS athlete doesn’t have to stand for the National Anthem, does he or she have to at least remain quiet and be respectful?

Or does he or she have the right – under the first amendment of freedom of speech —  to have a casual conversation with a friend or with a parent who’s at the game? Or can they even sing a different song – perhaps even a song of protest?

2 – If a public HS coach tells his team at the start of the season that he has a long-standing rule that every kid on the team stand for the National Anthem – and then the coach even has each kid voluntarily sign a letter of agreement to do so – can the coach then cut a kid who disobeys that mandate during the season?

3 – Or as one caller suggested: if a kid is on a HS team, then he or she knows that they are representing the school and the team – and as such, the team takes precedence over the individual’s rights to make a protest. In other words, if you are a true member of a team, there’s no exceptions for individual protests.

Think about that one, because in many ways it really gets to the heart of the issue.

But another long-time HS coach said: “I don’t care what the kid does or protests before the game…but once the game begins, he is a member of the team…and the team takes top priority.”



There is a legal separation between parochial/private schools and public schools. Since public schools are funded by tax payer dollars, coaches do not have the right to set down rules to prevent individual protests or to abridge the rights of students to express themselves.

But parochial/private schools are different since they are funded by the parents who pay for their kids to attend. For example, some private and parochial schools have a rule that all males have to wear a jacket and tie every day to school. AND that every student-athlete has to stand respectfully for the National Anthem before games.

Top attorneys have told me that this is perfectly legal, even though it seems to set a double standard between public and no-public schools.

Don’t forget. For years, many HS football coaches at public HS used to lead their teams in a pre-game prayer. Coaches can no longer do that —  unless, of course, they are coaching at a private school.


On last week’s show, I mentioned a famous Supreme Court case from 1943 about kids who were Jehovah Witnesses who didn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in school. The U.S. Supreme Court said that was indeed their right not to do so.

There was also a famous Supreme Court in 1965 – the Tinker case, as it’s known  — regarding a HS kid and his siblings who wore black arm bands to school to protest the war in Vietnam. This took places in Des Moines, and the school ordered the kids to remove their arm bands or be suspended from school. But the U.S. Supreme Court said the kids were within their rights to wear the armbands to school so long as they were non-disruptive and peaceful.


I seem to recall there was a bit of controversy earlier this fall when the star quarterback at UCLA – Josh Rosen – was putting forth a lot of his opinions on politics on social media, and there was some call to try and silence him. After all, people were saying, this is not the role of a college QB to voice political opinions.

But to his credit, Rosen simply pointed out and said, in effect, “I’m a college kid, and college kids have a lot of opinions…it’s what college kids do….I don’t see how my political views have anything to do with my football playing.”

And you know what? He’s absolutely right.

So where are we these days with taking a knee protests? Well, one thing is certain. It’s still a very muddled situation. But that being said, I would counsel parents and coaches see this as a teachable moment for parents to talk over with their kids.

To me, the key elements here are these:

1 – Make sure your son or daughter fully understands the cause they’re supporting. Get them to try and explain why they are protesting.

2 – Make sure they understand the possible long-range consequences of their actions. That’s important and often overlooked by kids.

3 – And make sure that if they do their protest, it has to be done with Respect for others around them who may not agree with them….and that the protest has to be done in a Peaceful and Civil Manner.


TRENDS IN SPORTS: When HS Athletes Protest by Taking a Knee….

So you and your family are sitting down to have dinner this fall, and let’s say your son,  who plays varsity football at your local HS, suddenly announces at the dinner table that he agrees with what Colin Kapaernick is doing in terms of protesting racial bias and oppression in this country —  and to show his solidarity, your son is going to take a knee when they play the National Anthem at his next HS football game.

As a sports parent, or even as a coach, what do you say or do? There has been a ton of debate about this issue for several weeks,  but very little has focused on the filter down effect on HS athletes. As a sports parent, if you haven’t thought about this issue up until now, this might be a good time to give this some thought. Not just your own personal opinion. But thinking about how you would react if your son or daughter took a knee.

Let’s assume, as several of my callers said this AM, that such an act is clearly unpatriotic and shows no respect for what the United States stands so. “We stand as a team,” commented one HS coach, “and I expect all of my players to stand for the National Anthem. No exceptions.”

When I then asked the coach what he would do if this situation actually presented itself, he confessed that he didn’t know what he would do. I reminded him that freedom of speech and freedom of expression are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and was even upheld in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court in 1943. But the coach seemed unfazed. He couldn’t get beyond how unpatriotic this act was.

Another sports Dad called in and said that young athletes today have to be held accountable for their actions – that they need to learn early on that there might be consequences to any actions they take now, including a taking a knee to protest. The father suggested that he would discuss with his son why he was staging a quiet protest, and then would inform his son that “That’s okay, but please understand that I won’t be attending your game,” meaning, in effect, that the father didn’t want to be there in person when all the other parents, coaches, and fans looked at his son’s actions. The Dad didn’t want to be there because of possible embarrassment.

In other words, his son would have to put up with the consequences of not  having his father watch him play in his HS games.


Let me add that some schools and states  simply do not allow athletes to take a knee.

For example, the Los Angeles Times reports that some school districts in CA, in response to the take a knee protests, have formally warned their student-athletes not to do so. These warnings carry some real teeth, including being punished for disobedience, possible suspension or being dismissed from the team, or having their grades lowered.

Closer to home, the Diocese in Camden NJ has also put forth a statement that not standing during the National Anthem is a sign of real disrespect, and will simply not be tolerated.

There doesn’t seem to be any standard or uniform approach on this issue. And of course, coaches and AD’s and educators are looking for some real guidance on this. And that seems to be a main part of the problem. And the concept is also spreading into other avenues. For example, close to 20 members of the East Carolina University marching band took a knee last week at a game….and a number of football fans in attendance at the game booed them, and showered them with garbage.

And then there’s the football team from Las Vegas. In this incident, the entire team took a knee before their last game. But this was a team of 5 and 6 year olds playing football. You have to wonder whether these young kids had a real and true understanding of what they were protesting.


To help shed some light on this issue, let me first deal with the legality of all this this.

During the beginning of WW II in 1943 after Pearl Harbor was bombed, as you might imagine, Americans were outraged at being attacked. And to help build solidarity, lots of towns and school boards across the US passed a mandate that school kids had to stand up every morning in class , salute the flag, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

But in a small town in West Virginia where this patriotic law was passed, the resolution allowed no exemptions because it was felt that, after all:  “national unity is the basis of national security.” Yet in this particular town, there was a group of  Jehovah’s Witnesses, a small religious group that was held in contempt by many Americans for, among other things, their refusal to serve in the military,… AND their refusal by the kids of these Jehovah Witnesses to salute the Flag, or to recite the Pledge. As part of their faith, they don’t believe in doing such things.

In other words, these young students were exercising their freedom of religion….and their freedom of speech….and would not stand or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, even though the US was fighting for its life in WW II. You can just imagine the kind of outrage this generated in this town.

It all ended up in court. The case, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which held in a landmark decision that yes, these students had every right to NOT stand up, to NOT salute the American flag, or they were NOT obligated to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

In other words, that it was, in effect, their American right NOT to participate.

To me, this is very, very similar to what’s going on now with the take a knee protests. Whether you like it or not, these athletes definitely have the right to protest in a civil manner for what they believe in.


In other words, the way I read this Barnette case from 1943 as adjudicated by the US Supreme Court, all of today’s student athletes AND coaches have the absolute right to take a knee during the National Anthem if they so choose.

I’m not a lawyer. But in discussing this matter with some of the nation’s top attorneys, I understand that the Barnette case is still very much in effect…that means that any school boards or states or leagues which try to BAN kids from taking a knee or PUNISH kids who protest are in violation of that famous Supreme Court ruling.


To me, if your son or daughter decide to stage a protest and take a knee, as a parent, I would strongly suggest you sit down with the youngster and first ask them why they are protesting. Allow them plenty of room to make their case. Hopefully, they will have some real and substantial reasons for their actions. But, for example, if they say, “All my friends are doing it….I don’t want to be the only one not taking part,” then you might want to take this moment to have a real heart-to-heart with your youngster.

On the other hand, if they really have given this some real thought, then understand that they are certainly entitled to their opinion, just as you are. And if they have really thought the issue through, you can respond by saying you don’t disagree. That’s the essence of free speech and debate in this country.

And if nothing, this kind of situation forces kids — and parents – to think about the concept of American freedom, about the real sacrifices made during wars, and of course, one’s own feelings about life in the US today.




INNOVATIONS: Why Not Set National Benchmarks so that Athletes Can See How They Match Up?

In today’s column, I’m going to make a strong suggestion and try to make a case that perhaps there’s a better way to raise our kids in sports than what we’re currently doing.

Now, admittedly, this is something of a radical approach. I’m the first to admit that.

But the truth is….

I just don’t see any end or improvement to what’s happening now in the world of sports parenting. I don’t see any evidence that things are getting better.

You know the headlines: helicopter sports parents everywhere are over-involved…HS  coaches are under siege and getting burned out and quitting…travel teams continue to be unregulated and travel coaches and teams don’t have to be certified by any local state or federal laws.

Kids everywhere feel they have to specialize in one sport at an increasingly early age….travel team tryouts add constant agonizing pressure to parents and kids.

We all know these realities….and yet…we don’t seem to have any ability to come up with a new or creative solution to any of this. It’s just become the hard-faced reality of youth sports in this country. In my opinion, we need to start focusing on how to change this. 

Let’s face it, every year, there’s a new crop of sports parents who come onto the sporting scene, all of them hoping that their 5 or 6 year old is going to be something really special in sports. But for those parents who aren’t well versed in the sport, or aren’t educated in travel team mentality, they – and their kids – seem to be placed at an immediate disadvantage.

Parents look for answers and guidance everywhere — but of course, there are no guidelines. Parents assume that tryouts for travel teams are about all equal opportunity, not knowing that pretty much the entire roster has already been pre-selected by the coaches.

What about hiring a private coach? Sure. But how do you know which coach to hire? Just through word of mouth? Remember, Mom and Dad, you’re paying for this.

Meanwhile, every kid and their parents are hoping that maybe….just maybe…they will develop into that rare athlete: the one who stars in HS and on travel teams and gets that golden ticket to play in college.

But the bottom line is that for those very, very few and very rare athletes who DO get that golden ticket, all the others kids and their families will come away disappointed. They THOUGHT being on a travel team would make them good enough. They ASSUMED that being All-League made them special.  They BOUGHT into the private coach telling them how good they were.

But of course, it just doesn’t work that way.

So….here’s a suggestion:


Suppose we had national athletic benchmarks for kids at age 10, 13, and 16?

These benchmarks of athletic ability would be totally objective standards that basically say to parents, that  if your kid can’t perform at these very high levels, then the reality is that you need to know there’s almost zero chance of them getting a scholarship or turning pro.

In other words, compared to other kids the same age from around the country who are also chasing that same golden ticket, these standardized athletic tests show that your kid is just not projecting to be good enough.

Very simple. Very straightforward. No reason to sugar coat this. Let the youngster know he or she – when compared to other athletes their age – they simply don’t match up as compared to all the other kids their same age nationally who are pursuing the same goals.

These physical aptitude tests could consist of 6 to 8 basic tests: A kid’s jumping ability….their speed in a 60- yard dash…how good is their visual acuity (most major leaguers have 20-15 vision, not just 20-20)….overall strength in terms of weight lifting…one’s balance….eye-hand coordination….a kid’s current height….and weight…you get the idea.

Now, let be clear about this….the national scores they would be matching up against are NOT the AVERAGE or ACCEPTABLE physical abilities for a kid their age. We’re talking about the superior athletes and how they match up at the same age as your kid at age 13, or 16.

To do this, we would ask the medical experts and athletic trainers to come up with national standards in these kinds of athletic abilities, and then – just as kids take SAT or ACT standard tests for college admission , they can see how their athletic abilities compare with real college scholarship athletes.

That is, when a HS student takes the SAT or ACT tests, those are standard, universal scores that help inform the kid and their parents how they stack up against all the other HS students in the country. And of course, these scores go a long way in determining where they can get into college.

What does this all of accomplish in athletics? Well, for starters, it helps to give the parents a much clearer understanding of just how difficult it is for any athlete to compete at the highest levels.

That is, we keep telling parents that less than 4% of all HS varsity athletes will ever make any kind of sports team in college at any level. The problem is, of course, that the parents look at their own athlete and naturally assume that he or she is one of those 4%.


But by having these national standard numbers posted everywhere in schools, the parents will have to come to grips with the harsh reality that while their youngster is indeed a very big athletic fish in their local community, their community is just another small pond – and that there are thousands of comparable small ponds around the country.

It also sends a similar message to the athletes — that this is how your national competitors are checking in — and that maybe, just maybe, you might want to start thinking about another back-up passion in life besides playing sports.

My sense is that we have to start thinking proactively as to what and how we can change our current system. Or at least do something to better inform parents and their kids about what the future has in store for them.



You could have benchmarks for such easily measured elements as:

Speed in a 40-yard sprint.

Visual accuity

Jumping ability.

Physical strength (e.g. how much can a kid lift?)


Eye-hand coordination

Height and weight

For example, let’s take simple speed. By the time most college football wide receivers are, say, 16, — and I’m making these numbers up – I’ll bet they are very, very fast. Maybe the average speed for D-I wide receivers in a 40-yard dash is 4.4 or 4.5 seconds.

Okay….so your son is 16 and plays wide receiver on his HS team. What is his time in a 40 yard dash? Clearly if it’s not 4.5 or better, then it would appear he’s not going to be competitive in a sprint with all the other HS wide receivers – all of whom want football scholarships as well.

In other words, let’s start to develop some meaningful numbers along a range of athletic measurements so kids and parents and coaches know what the truth is.

Won’t this have the effect of just discouraging kids from competing? No, to me, it will have just the opposite effect. That is, kids will play sports SIMPLY because they’re fun to play….for the pure joy of playing….which is something we did a generation ago. We played sports because they were fun, no because we were chasing a college scholarship.

It will also send the message to parents and kids that while it’s great for your son or daughter to play, they had better realize that maybe there’s no real money in their future as an athlete. Yes, it will help them on their college application to be All-League or a team Captain in their sport, but that may simply help them get into a better academic college….NOT get them an athletic  scholarship.

“But my kid has the heart of a lion,” I can hear parents saying, “And you can’ measure a kid’s heart.”

Well, that’s true. But unfortunately, if your boy is 5-11, 180, and plays linebacker in HS, there’s just zero chance of his being heavily recruited by any D-I schools. Even if he has great speed, his physical size is going to eliminate him. Why? Because college football coaches can find linebackers who are 6’3, weigh 225, and run with tremendous speed. Plus these kids also are blessed with great determination.

So, there’s no need to recruit a smaller and slower kid.

My point? Better to let this smaller linebacker know the truth while he’s 16 or 17, so that he can focus on developing other parachutes in life….AND he can still compete in HS football because he enjoys it – not because he’s thinking he’s going to play in college.

And what about travel programs and private coaches?

Well, the same rules apply. Your kid may be a talented travel player, but regardless of whether they play on an elite travel program or have a private coach who assures him he’s doing great and is on the fast track, the national benchmark numbers are going to be very hard to dismiss.

Look, kid, you’re really good….but you’re just not fast enough, or big enough, or strong enough to make the big jump to the next level.

What do you think? Is this approach a good idea? Or do you have another idea to educate sports parents and kids on the realities of competitive sports? Otherwise, the current issues we face today in sports parenting are just going to continue. And that’s what concerns me.