Over the summer, my son told me that he didn’t want to play basketball his senior year, because he was worried about his grades. My husband and I were very supportive of his decision not to play this year, because he really doesn’t want to play college basketball or pursue a sports oriented career (like coaching). In July, our son made an appointment and went by himself (he wanted to go by himself) to tell his coach that he no longer wanted to play. Of course, the coach was shocked and disappointed, but respected his decision. He told our son that if he changed his mind, he could still play. Everything seemed fine in July.
Now, here is the problem. I teach at our high school. Every day, people ask us to make our son reconsider. His coach said he could work with him on practice time, if he needed to study. The superintendent, coaches, principal, other parents, teachers, counselors, his other team members, etc, are putting pressure on me to get our son back on the team.
Unfortunately, my husband and I are beginning to agree with these people. The team will be devastated without our son. He is the tallest person on the team. Apparently, there aren’t any younger players who can fill in our son’s position and jump center, and play down low under the basket. We are worried that a poor season will affect some of the other players’ opportunities to play college basketball.
I did not realize how much everyone was counting on our son to play this year. His team has been together since the 6th grade. They have looked forward to their senior year all their lives. They are all nice young men. They are not wild and don’t have behavior problems. They have been devastated by our son’s decision. Many are in my classes; they talk to me a lot about our son.
Here’s our question: What do we do? Should our son reconsider? How can we best help him this year? Thanks for your time and input. We are really struggling with this problem!
Dr. Cohn’s Answer:
I think you can look at this situation in two ways. You should not let the social pressure from others persuade you to convince your son to play his last year. Then he would be playing for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, you could argue he should finish his high school basketball career. He is part of the team and has a responsibility to his teammates to help the team out. So it is a tough decision.
I suggest that you talk to your son about why it’s not fun anymore. Is he burnt out on it? Is it that he has lost confidence in his game? Does he feel pressure to carry the team? Or does he want to focus more on his studies? Are there any conditions under which he would be willing to play?
After talking to your son, you and your son might talk to the coach and your son’s teammates. Perhaps they could help make basketball more enjoyable for your son and the other players. Sports should be fun. You could have the team and coach commit to making it enjoyable for all. You could arrange for him to have some extra time to focus on his studies. Have you considered that he does not like the coach?
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