Helping Put Athletics in Perspective for Your Child


To strive for high standards of athletic excellence is commendable. But parents and athletes alike must

realizethat the chances of actually becoming a professional are remote. Even if your child appears to be a

gifted athlete, the odds are overwhelm¬ing. Given the reality of the situation, a career in professional sports

or even participation at the elite college level is an unrealistic goal for the majority of young athletes. It is

therefore important to impress upon youngsters that sports are but one part of their life. It is all too easy for youngsters and parents alike to harbor fantasies of turning pro and to sacrifice other areas of development

in pursuit of that fabled status and its rewards of fame, money, and glory. It is not at all uncommon for athletes

to become one-dimensional people. Putting young athletes on pedestals and granting them special favors

may in the long run be a disservice to them. Be thankful if your youngster does have athletic ability, but at the

same time help him or her to develop into a well-rounded person. As valuable as we believe athletics can

be for developing youngsters, we do not believe spiritual enrichment, social and aca¬demic development,

and quality of family life should suffer. Sports can offer both fun and fulfillment, but there is more to life

than sports.

Perhaps the best advice we can give is to encourage your child to participate in sports if he or she wishes to,

but at the same time do not allow the tail to wag the dog. Help your child to understand that sport participation

is not an end in itself, but a means of achiev¬ing various goals. Teach your child to enjoy the process of participation for itself rather than to focus on such end-products as victories and trophies. Neither victory nor

 defeat should be blown out of proportion, and no parent should permit a child to define his or her self-worth

purely on the basis of sport performance. By keep¬ing sports in perspective, you can make it a source of

personal and family growth.



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