Parental Misguided Behavior

The other night, I caught on the evening news the sight of a dozen adults fighting at a girls’ softball game. Punching and kicking each other, it looked like tag team wrestling gone viral. Cursing and pulling hair, it was a disgrace. And it was not unusual. All too often parents have been seen interfering with what should be an evening of sportsmanship and fun turn into chaos.

What drives this behavior? It must be parents pushing their kids to excel at all costs, opponents and umpires be damned. It can’t simply be territorial rights to championships.

I submit what drives and energizes this behavior is money, the same issue that now drives all of sports.

Two factors, the exorbitant cost of college, and the sinful sums of money paid to professional athletes, causes parents to drive their kids to be the best, regardless of sportsmanship and fair play.

LeBron James, signing a four-year contract guaranteeing him $154,000,000, or $475,000 per game to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, only adds to the problem.

Parents in Florida shop their kids around to the schools with the better athletic programs in the hope of their being noticed more by college coaches. The State Legislature went even further by passing a rule that allows any student anywhere in the state to attend any other school, statewide, as long as he/she can provide their own transportation. In effect, a student athlete could attend twelve different schools during a four year period, playing at least three different sports.

The irony is this abhorrent behavior is more exhibited in the stands than on the fields. When kids are left alone, play is still pretty much what it had always been, competitive activity between competitive participants.

Far too many parents (a) think their child is good enough to get an athletic scholarship to college, negating the huge cost of having to pay it themselves. Then there are those who think (b) their child will become a pro and make millions.

Below is the summary of an extensive study done by ScholarshipStats.Com.

Odds of a US High School Athlete Playing in College:

What are the chances of a high school athlete making the transition to the college level?  We compared the  number of athletes participating in varsity sports at US high schools  during the 2016-17 school year to the number of college student athletes. Overall a little over 7% of high school athletes (about 1 in 14) went on to play a varsity sport in college and less than 2% of high school athletes (1 in 54) went on to play at  NCAA Division I schools. The largest percentage of both male and female college athletes competed at  NCAA Division III schools.

It is clear to see that the chances of getting an athletic scholarship are very small. Better that parents stress academics over athletics. A recent study showed a college degree is worth $1,000,000 more in earnings in a lifetime. With only 58 percent of football players and 47 percent of basketball players getting a degree, parents should stress academics over athletics.

As for that parental “swingin’ softball soirée,” those parents are advised that only 1 in 62 high school girls will play NCAA Div. 1-A softball, the only division where athletic scholarships are available.

On another note, Happy Fourth of July!

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4 responses to “Parental Misguided Behavior

  1. Terry Parssinen

    Jim,
    Your comments are absolutely correct. Speaking as a DIII football player who had an academic scholarship–and who has made a living as a college professor–participating in college sports was a joy, but it was clear that no one our team had the remotest chance of making it as a professional player. However, many of us ended up a lawyers, doctors, professors and businessmen. At our frequent reunions we talk about the great fun we had playing football, and the great satisfaction we have had as professional men. So parents, emphasize academics to your children. Their chances of winning an academic, as opposed to an athletic, scholarship are much greater, and their chances of leading a productive, and happy life are enhanced.

    • Thanks, Terry, for your cogent comments. The true value of sports is getting away from many people, especially parents. Looking back, sandlot play was a great influence on our lives in learning team work and fair play, wasn’t it?

  2. Jim,
    Agreed – Parental involvement is ruining youth sports. So many promising teen athletes “retire” at a time when their interest in sports should be peaking due to parental pressure, burnout, single sports specialization, etc.
    The fact is, approximately 1 percent of high school athletes will receive a Division 1 scholarship. And those scholarships, on average, are worth much less than the family’s investment in private lessons, sports camps, and other training.
    Keep in mind that the interior experience of playing a sport, the beauty and the joy of it, is in sovereign territory and belongs to the kids themselves!!!!
    Mike

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