By Janis Meredith
No athlete plays competitive sports forever. At some point, the glory days must end.
Pros retire. College athletes graduate. High school students don’t make it to the next level. Whether your child quits playing at 14 or 40, the question remains: What kind of person will he or she be when the playing days are over?
What will you as parents get in return for all the money, hours and emotional energy poured into growing athletes?
My 27-year-old daughter played softball for 15 years. We spent a lot of money for travel ball, catcher’s equipment and hitting lessons. In 2011, she graduated from college and is now a kindergarten teacher. She doesn’t play softball for a living, but that money we spent wasn’t wasted because we know that her softball experience was a lot more about who she became than what she accomplished.
The same goes for my son, now 24 and a college grad. He played sports all through high school and football in college. We paid for him to go to QB camps and work with a personal trainer, but he never went pro. So we could ask: Was it a waste of time and money? Absolutely not. Playing sports has helped shape our son into a strong, caring, sure-minded young man.
Playing sports brings excitement and recognition. It may even help pay for college and open doors for the future, but nothing will ever be more important than the type of person your son or daughter becomes in the process.
You can’t put a price tag on learning self-discipline, a good work ethic, unselfishness and persistence. Press clippings and stats will come and go, but these positive character traits will be part of your young athlete’s DNA for life. Keep this big-picture perspective and the youth sports journey will be much more enjoyable for you and your child.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.