Dear Coach Bryant:

We’ve always supported our son’s exceptional passion for baseball. But now that he’s starting to think about college, his mother and I are wondering if we should continue to encourage his interest in playing at that level. While he’s likely to do well, he isn’t the type to go pro — and we know the academic program he’s considering will be tough.

The pandemic has interfered with all his fun this year. Given these unique times, should we encourage him to drop his sport in college, so he can focus on classes and having the fun he missed out on in high school

State U Alum-Dad

Dear Alum-Dad,

I truly understand why parents are so concerned about their children right now. My heart goes out to all the students missing out on once-in-a-lifetime experiences. That’s exactly why I’m advising parents of high school athletes to support their children’s sports goals. If your son wants to play ball in college, I would urge you to support his decision. Here’s why: 

1. Sports are fun.

Athletes play because sports are fun. They practice hard because it is fun to excel. They challenge their teammates because it is fun to pursue a goal with their best friends. They put in extra hours because the road trips are a blast. There is nothing like the joy of playing one’s sport during any season of life. But maybe the most joy-filled season of any athlete’s life is that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at the college level. 

2. Sports encourage responsible fun. 

Athletes know how to party. They go out and celebrate victories together. But to consistently play their sport, athletes must be risk-responsible. They can’t party every night. They can’t spend their college careers drinking to get drunk. Since their fellow party-goers are often teammates, those friends tend to help them set good habits for life.

3. Sports promote forever, fun friendships.

Teams spend so much time together that they begin to feel like family. Such “families” reunite at fun gatherings for years. Unlike students who party with different persons each semester – or even every night – athletes form forever friendships. The time they invest together — at practice, at games, during travel and at off-campus events – pay big networking dividends for the rest of their lives.

The reality

This pandemic won’t last forever, but the decisions students and their parents make during these trying times can have lasting consequences. If a high school student wants to pursue an opportunity to participate in a college sports program, wise parents should support that decision. The resulting fun their student will have as they participate, practice and play will be remembered long past this stressful season.