Nearly 20 years ago I spoke with a parents group at an elementary school. Most in attendance were parents of elementary students. Most were moms.
During our discussion, the mothers pleaded with me – that’s not too strong a word – to help develop policies that would preserve a place on high school teams for their children. “Just a jersey,” one mom said. “Just a spot on the team.”
These parents were almost sick with worry that if their sons and daughters did not play one sport year-round, starting now, they wouldn’t make the team in high school. And they believed that not making the team would doom their children to absenteeism, drug use, pregnancy, and every evil known to youth.
They saw the high school program becoming a program for only elite athletes, only the specialists, with no room for their kids who would meet the standards of eligibility but lack the necessary athletic experience to make the team because they didn’t belong to a private club, go to all the right camps, or make a certain travel team in the third grade.
Did these parents overstate the problem? Yes. But there’s some validity in their worries.
Those moms gave me a goal, and later my own sons personalized that goal: to work for that generation of high school students and the next to preserve a place in our programs for all students, regardless of athletic ability, who meet all the essential standards of eligibility, want to participate in more than one school sport and activity and embody the spirit of being a student first in educational athletics.