Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

Be Honest About Kids' Sports Potential

February 15, 2013
By Jon Buzby ,

When talking sports potential, honesty is best policy between parent, child

While watching a Division I college basketball game last week, my high school-aged son (10th grade) asked that one question every parent dreads answering: "Dad, do you think I can play Division I basketball?"

So how do we answer that? Without lying. Without setting unreachable expectations. Without dashing dreams.

Fortunately the crowd noise gave me a reason to ask him to repeat the question, even though I heard him perfectly clear the first time. The answers were racing through my head faster than the chants from the crowd for the home team. The only problem was there were many answers, but none that I liked.

He's an average junior varsity player right now. I actually think he's better than some of the kids playing more than him, but Division I, I'm not so sure.

At the same time, at that age I had dreams of following Michael Jordan to Chapel Hill, N.C., and playing in the Dean Dome. The closest I ended up getting was sneaking into the back of the building on a business trip to see the rows of Carolina blue seats in person. My only college playing experience ended up being like that of so many others - intramurals.

So I answered him honestly.

"Son, at this point your goal needs to be to make the varsity team your junior or senior year," I said. "No Division I players come from the junior varsity ranks. If you can do that, who knows? You'll probably grow a bit in the next few years and if you work hard in the offseason, you'll get stronger as well."

His response was, "But should we start emailing college coaches now to make them aware of me?"

My answer: "The first question a college coach would have if we emailed one tomorrow would be, 'What are your varsity statistics this year?' "

So we continued to watch the game and coincidentally a player appeared from the bench that I could envision my son emulating in a few years. He was average height, average quickness, one of the smartest players on the court and could nail a 3-pointer from anywhere.

So I told my son, "See that player? That could be you. It will take a lot of hard work and desire, but it could be."

And I was being perfectly honest.

And then I followed that with, "But you know what? You're only a sophomore. You might not want to play the game after your senior year for a variety of reasons. You might decide you want to spend your college years having fun, and studying, not playing basketball 24/7."

It was an honest statement. He just nodded.

So I guess the bottom line is that when your child asks you a question about his or her athletic potential, just be honest. You can give him or her an answer that will give a glimmer of hope, not shatter his or her dreams, and most importantly, keep that one thing you are most proud of intact - your honesty since the day he or she was born.

Jon Buzby writes youth sports columns for a variety of publications. Contact him at and follow him @JonBuzby onTwitter.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web