Is your kid spending his childhood on the soccer field? Is your family’s summer a series of non-stop swim meets? There’s no doubt that youth sports have taken over family life. If your kid is playing year-round everything because he or she loves it, that’s one thing, but if it’s because you think there’s an athletic scholarship or professional sports glory waiting in his future, you need to read this morning’s New York Times story, “Athletic Scholarships: Expectations Lose to Reality.”
Parents sacrifice weekends and vacations to tournaments and specialty camps, spending thousands each year in this quest for the holy grail. But the expectations of parents and athletes can differ sharply from the financial and cultural realities of college athletics…
“People run themselves ragged to play on three teams at once so they could always reach the next level,” said Margaret Barry of Laurel, Md., whose daughter is a scholarship swimmer at the University of Delaware. “They’re going to be disappointed when they learn that if they’re very lucky, they will get a scholarship worth 15 percent of the $40,000 college bill. What’s that? $6,000?”
And what’s never discussed is the downside to playing college ball, track, swimming, etc. – the painfully early morning weight training, long practices and travel time. There’s a reason colleges routinely hire tutors for their star athletes.
It’s because those kids have trouble making it to class.
“Kids who have worked their whole life trying to get a scholarship think the hard part is over when they get the college money,” said Tim Poydenis, a senior at Villanova receiving $3,000 a year to play baseball. “They don’t know that it’s a whole new monster when you get here. Yes, all the hard work paid off. And now you have to work harder.”
The story closes with this comment from a college athlete:
“On every team I played on, every single person there thought for sure that they would play in college. I thought so, too. Just by the numbers, it’s completely unrealistic. And if I had it to do over, I would have skipped a practice every now and then to go to a concert or a movie with my friends. I missed out on a lot of things for soccer. I wish I could have some of that time back.”