Think you should hold your child back in school so that he or she can experience greater success in sports? Some parents today are choosing this route, even when their children are academically and socially prepared and ready to move on with their appropriate age cohort. Their thinking, for better or for worse, is that the more success their child has in sports, the greater the chances for an eventual Division I college athletic scholarship. Is there merit to this assumption, or should parents become better acquainted with the odds of their kid making it, as well as other issues and hurdles that may arise when deciding to hold their child back?
The odds of making it in sports
Regardless whether you hold your child back in school, the odds are still slim that your child will earn a full-ride athletic scholarship. That’s not meant to be a pessimistic message, but instead a realistic message based on the fact that fewer than 5% of all high school student athletes annually advance to the college athletic level. Interestingly, even the 5% statistic is misleading, as that number includes partial scholarships, walk-on student athletes (no athletic no athletic scholarship money), and Division III student athletes (no athletic scholarship money). As you can see, regardless of whether your child stays back in school a year, he or she will still face quite the challenge when pursuing a full-ride athletic scholarship.
Do you want tougher or easier competition?
Another concern when thinking about holding a kid back in school for athletic reasons has to do with the level of competition. Specifically, if by holding your child back it means that he or she will be bigger, stronger, and faster than the competition, does this help — or hurt — overall athletic development? While your child might dominate the competition due to advantages in size and strength, chances are he or she won’t be maximizing athletic abilities without being pushed by competition as talented (or better). In fact, many parents look the opposite direction when signing their kid up for sport leagues and sometimes decide to “play up” their child so that he or she faces tougher competition, and thereby increases athletic talents and abilities as a result.
Sports burnout, injuries, stigmas, and bullying
As with most things, there are no free rides or guarantees with the decisions we make in life. Kids who are held back in school simply to increase athletic abilities may face new issues and challenges as a result, including the following:
- Sports burnout
- Sport injures from over-use
- Stigmas from being perceived as “cheating,” or false assumptions about academic deficiencies
- Bullying from kids who disagree with the idea of a kid staying back in school to dominate on the field
Holding a kid back solely for athletic reasons doesn’t seem like the most prudent move, especially when you weigh the long shot of making it against the new issues and problems that can arise as a result of the decision. In reality, kids who have amazing athletic talent, coupled by a burning desire to play sports, will already be in the best possible position to earn a college athletic scholarship.