2nd Tip: Five Ways to Think Realistically About Sports and Scholarships

This is the second in a 5 Tips Series, looking at the positive role Lead Dads can play when it comes to kids and sports. Last week’s tip looked at the cost of kids’ sports. Next week looks at the role Dads play as coaches.
Kids + Athletic Excellence = College Sports Scholarships.
It’s an appealing formula, with just a few caveats.
Your kids are not getting a Division 1 college scholarship - and that’s okay as long as you know this when you’re driving them all over the map.  
If your child does get a Division 1 college scholarship, he or she is not going to play professionally.
And if your child plays professionally, chances are they’re going to look back and say things that contradict everything the other parents thought would get their children to that same point.
Consider three professional athletes I wrote about in the New York Times when I was a columnist there.

John Amaechi first picked up a basketball when he was 17, after suffering through years of playing rugby in England. He soon left for Ohio to finish high school. Six years later, he started at center for the Cleveland Cavaliers and went on to have a solid N.B.A. career.

Mike Trombley, a quarterback and a pitcher in high school, went to Duke University without an athletic scholarship. He made the baseball team and was drafted in his junior year by the Minnesota Twins, pitching for 11 seasons.

And Travis Dorsch never would have thought to play football had he not scored a goal in soccer from midfield as a boy in Montana. A friend suggested he consider becoming a kicker. He got a scholarship to Purdue University, where he earned All-American honors and went on to kick for the Cincinnati Bengals.

I think about these three and others I wrote about as I watch the rush this month for kids to end their summers early and try out for elite teams – some at incredibly young ages.
The punchline from that NYT column was this: “These three athletes, now in their 30s and 40s and from different backgrounds, agree on one thing: The way youth sports are played today bears no resemblance to their childhoods, and the money, time and energy that parents spend is probably misplaced.”
In other words, they are not models – they are outliers.
Dorsch said he had no problem with parents spending big for their kids, as long as they could afford it. But he had a caveat: “What’s wrong is when that investment brings out some sort of negative parent behavior. Or if the kid says mom and dad are spending $10,000 on me a year, what are they expecting in return? Is it a college scholarship? The chances are slim to none of a kid getting a scholarship.”
So what should kids and parents returning to pre-season practice right now think?
Five takeaways:

    1) It’s not all or nothing. Sports could help your children get into college – just as other activities help children stand out.

    2) The cost is more than financial. Kids burn out. Siblings grow resentful. Check your ego and make sure you’re doing this for the right reason: your child loves the sport and is learning so much from it.

    3) Life lessons. Sports teach lessons in abundance. Teamwork. Being self motivated. Winning but most of all losing. Don’t forget how important losing is.

    4) Money and time are finite resources.

    5) Childhood matters. This is the time in life where we get to try out all different things. Remember this.

Reasonable people may disagree with these points. But it’s important to remember that these are kids’ sports. They’re supposed to be fun.

Join our community of Lead Dads.
This Week’s Podcast:
Want Your Kids To Excel? Join The Parent Nation

Dana Suskind is an acclaimed pediatric surgeon at the University of Chicago and the author of "Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise." What’s a parent nation? It’s a group that values and supports the labor and love of raising the next generation, particularly in the early years. The health and well-being of those children is very much dependent on what parents can do. But is it all on Lead Dads – or Lead Moms to figure it out? Or does society have a role to play? When things aren’t going right have we failed? Listen to Dr. Suskind talk about a different way to view parenting and learn how to create real change in a post-pandemic world where work and family are intertwined.

Listen To The Latest Podcast Now!
Question of the Week:

What’s the worst thing that’s happened on a weekend that over time has become a great family story? See mine here on Instagram.

Email me at or reach out on TwitterFacebookInstagram or LinkedIn. Let’s share!

Paul Sullivan,
Founder of The Company of Dads

Come check out our community

See what the Company of Dads is all about. Hear stories like yours and foster connections with other lead dads.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
The Company of Dads · PO Box 431 · New Canaan, CT 06840-0431 · USA