Don’t get me wrong, I love sports. But the increasing focus for high schoolers on them is starting to precede the importance of academics in college admissions.
I understand that as a parent you love to see your child succeed in the sport they compete in. However, I see more and more parents every year encouraging and ensuring that their child is focusing on a singular sport with hopes of them receiving a college scholarship. Participating in sports and other forms of competition can be great for developing the values of handwork and dedication. These values in turn can be applied to other areas of life – such as academics – where they will also prove useful. Yet, too many parents and students are prioritizing athletics in a manner where such facets of success are only prioritized on the court or field instead of in the classroom.
We completely understand the interest of athletic-recruitment. The Learning Consultants has a Student-Athlete Mastery program, where we help young student-athletes navigate the balance of excelling in both sports and school with the end goal of being receiving either athletic scholarships or for utilizing athletic ability for leverage into admission at an elite school.
Nevertheless, the focus for many student-athletes has been too heavy on the “athlete” part. Most parents know that their child will not be a professional in their sport, yet the amount of time, energy, and money that many parents spend on sports would not reflect this.
This problem mainly exists in upper-middle class suburbs. Both parents and students are delusional of how good at their sport they really are because of the small pools of competition that they face. Sure, some students are very good at their respective sport for whatever district or league they participate in. However, all districts are just small bubbles. There are thousands of them in the U.S., making it very difficult to be the best of the best.
Some time ago, I worked with a student who was one of the top soccer players that ever played in his small Connecticut town. He was an excellent soccer player and was the top goalscorer of his high school league his junior year. Part of the reason he was so good was that he played academy and premiere league soccer throughout elementary and middle school, where he was given access to elite coaches and players that ultimately crafted him into the player he was. His parents firmly believed that he would receive a division I scholarship. I did not want to be the one to burst their bubble. Many don’t realize the sheer level of talent that is out there nowadays. Although this student was one of the few players in his high school league that played in elite programs as kids, there are thousands of other people in the country that share the same background. This student would most definitely be able to play soccer at a division III or even II school, which he ended up doing. He was a smart kid, but the school he committed to was not very elite. Had he spent more time on academics in high school, he could have gone to an academically superior college and still have played soccer there (If it was also a D3 or D2 school). His parents’ hyper focus on soccer – instead of finding a proper balance between soccer and school – led him to suffer in the classroom and limit his choices of where he could go to college.