Just last week, my college roommate’s 11-year-old son asked him whether he should plan to play professional basketball or football. Keep in mind this aspiring young athlete has yet to wear a pair of shoulder pads because his actual experience playing football has only involved yanking flags out of people’s pockets in the back yard.
But all kids have dreams. And sometimes it’s hard for us parents to sit back and go along with our kids’ wildest ones. Yet I think it’s important for kids to learn for themselves when it’s time to admit that their dreams are just that.
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Does it really matter that an 11-year-old who has yet to go through puberty thinks he has a shot to play in the pros? After all, he’s only bragging to fellow classmates who probably think the same about themselves.
Why deter any child from having dreams, no matter how far-fetched we think they are at the time? Imagine the immediate lack of motivation to practice harder in whatever sport you are paying a lot of money for your child to participate in if you tell them now they have no prayer to play in the big leagues. Imagine — or in some cases maybe remember — the feeling that went through your mind and heart when your father or mother told you, “You better come up with another plan because you aren’t good enough to turn pro.”
As parents, wouldn’t we love it if our 11-year-old came home from school one day talking about their dream to become a doctor? And yet most of our kids have the same shot to get a Division I scholarship as they do to have the initials “M.D.” after their name.
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Whether it’s aspiring to play professional sports, hoping to be the high school drum major, or wanting to be the doctor who cures cancer, dreams are healthy. And so, why should us parents wake up our children from their dreams before they’re ready?
After all, remember, an 11-year-old lanky kid named Michael Jordan once dreamed of playing in the NBA. And then he got cut from his high school team.
His dream still ended up coming true. Who’s to say this 11-year-old’s won’t.
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Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years, originally as a coach and board member with his now-adult son and most recently "just as a dad" with his 9- and 11-year-old sons. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.