Thursday, May 07, 2009

When a youth sports athlete calls it quits

It would be interesting (read: frightening) to tote up the money that is spent each year putting kids in a position to become college athletes: club and elite team fees, travel, hotels, private tutors, college sports placement services, showcases, athlete dvds. Have I forgotten anything?

Some kids are happy they made the effort, of course. But for others intercollegiate sports isn't all it's cracked up to be. They quickly learn that at the college level, especially Division I, college sports is a job. A full-time one, at that.

In Until It Hurts, I write about one such athlete, Fran Murray, who spent his high school years focused on a goal to make the leap to Division I baseball. It turned out to be the goal of the coaches and adults around him, though. As he explains, a few weeks into fall practice, he was wondering what he was doing on the baseball field and how to escape. “Every day, it felt more and more stupid. I kept asking myself: What am I doing wearing these pants and jacket? I should be doing my homework. I should be doing something beneficial to me down the road. I felt like a child out there. That’s when the tipping point came.”

Murray quit the team and hasn't looked back.

This piece in the Newark Star Ledger by columnist Mark Diionno reminded me of Fran Murray's story. It's a father's perspective on the end of a daughter's school sports life and a lesson on how to gracefully accept that moment.

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