Just a little background before I discuss V.J. Stanley’s appearance on the radio show this AM.
Although sports parenting concerns have become a continuously rising issue for more than 25 years now. and there have been countless articles, columns, and other forms of media outreach on this topic, the truth is that there are only a few individuals around the country who have decided that they wanted to step up and do something about this issue and try to educate all parents, coaches, and kids about the realities of kids in sports.
You probably know some of the better known names in sports parenting, either because they have appeared on my show over the years, or perhaps you heard them talk at a sports parenting seminar. That would include Doug Abrams, Steve Kallas, Bob Bigelow, Jim Thompson, Fred Engh, and George Selleck.
V. J. Stanley, who was a top head college ice hockey coach at the Univ of Rochester for 21 years, and was also a top athlete himself, has recently joined these ranks as he too attempts to educate sports parents about “chasing the dream” of college scholarships and a pro contract. As V.J. pointed out, too many parents simply get caught up in the chase and, even worse, their children become, in effect, innocent victims. As a youngster moves away from the fun and enjoyment of playing a sport to feeling pressured to keep succeeding at a higher and higher level, eventually the games shift from fun to work. Even worse, for the vast majority of these kids, the dream usually ends up on the rocks, dashed by false hopes and the hard realities of winning at all costs for coaches.
V.J. expanded on these themes this AM, and one of the key points he made was that once you have what he calls the “Santa Claus” talk with your youngster – meaning that just as you have to sit down at a certain point and explain to your child that there is no Santa Claus – you need to have that kind of talk with your athletes about the reality of them getting a scholarship or signing a pro contract. V.J. says once he had that talk with his own HS-aged son, he discovered that his son had tremendous pressure lifted off him, and really started to enjoy his time on the varsity teams. Plus, he played better.
I thought it was a point worth reflecting on, and although most parents are either reluctant to have this conversation with their son or daughter, it’s clearly something considering before you and your youngster get caught up in a race – a race in sports that seemingly will go nowhere.
VJ Stanley can be reached at FrozenShorts.com