I was at a high school varsity soccer game the other day. I happened to not have a child playing and was talking to another friend there without a child on the pitch.
We got to talking about the adjustment to college. Eventually, we were talking about the adjustment from being the “big star” in high school sports to being a “small fish” at the college level.
The long and the short of what we decided is that teenage athletes – both at the collegiate and high school levels – make being the sports star their identity. When moving from one level to the next, that identity, in most cases, changes. So, at a time when a 18 year old is living away from home for the first time, adjusting to living with someone they don’t know, adjusting to no parental influence, this same teenager is adjusting to a complete change in identity.
Teen athletes need to realize that what other people think is not what is important in their decisions to play at the varsity or collegiate level. Teen athletes need to know that who they are may be a part their athleticism but that should not be their all.
Look at the numbers – there are over 1 million high school football players in the US. There are not even collegiate programs to absorb, even if talent dictated it, that number. There is a whittling down. Then, look at the number of professional football teams. There is not enough to absorb the number of collegiate athletes, even if you include arena football, Canadian football. The numbers are worse for the female athlete.
Please make sure that teen athletes have an identity out of their sport. It will be their life eventually.