Young Athletes Want the Reward Without Putting the Work In

May 24, 2016 • James Cannida • Features, Front Page, High School, Youth Football, Youth/HS

I sometimes question why I’m in the place I am now, but then realize that this path of mine is God’s will. I’m a former NFL player-turned-Physical Education teacher/coach, so all day everyday I hear students telling me they want to go pro.

I support every child having a dream, and I hope that their dream will come true one day. But there is just one problem: 90% of the students who say they want to play at a higher level don’t want to do the work.

We are in a school system that is now making everything easy on students and taking away accountability. I see so many core teachers frustrated because of the the second chances they must give students. I’m hard on my athletes, but all the ones that have gone on and had some success now know why I was so hard.

If a student fails a test he can take it over, what is that? We didn’t have retest when I was in school. This conditions kids that they don’t have to pass the first time because they will get a second chance.

Then there is entitlement, young athletes think they are entitled to playing time, or making the team. This goes back to “participation trophies”, an athlete is given a trophy for participation. Not to sound like I’m against kids playing a sport to try it, but you can’t reward them with a trophy if they didn’t deserve it. I see teams going 0-8 then all the kids get a trophy and are all happy.

What are we teaching our kids? Are we setting them up to think that mediocrity is acceptable?

This may sound harsh, but I told my oldest son (who is 13 now) this when he was five: “son there are winners and losers in life, and you have to decide which one you want to be.”

My son has to know that you can do great things in life, but it comes with a price. You only get out of life what you put into it, so make the most of everyday.

An athlete’s playing window is so small that the work they learn in that sport has to be carried over into everyday life. If a child is patted on the back and told that it will be okay when they do something wrong, they will never fix that behavior. So when you tell me you want to get better and get a scholarship but you never workout or train, I know you aren’t serious. When you want the rewards of a scholarship, but work like the person that’s not going to college. Don’t give me a bunch of lip service, and then when I tell you what a typical day for a college athlete is you tell me “that might be too hard.”

I don’t tell my athletes about going pro until I think they can handle going to college. Being a student-athlete is serious work, and you have to put that work in to get that reward.

You can also check out James’ article here.

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