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Examiner
  • ‘Just Say Know’ takes an unexpected turn

  • A funny thing happened to us on our way to publishing “Just Say Know.” This series was envisioned to focus on the pressures your child faces to use drugs and alcohol and how those pressures relate to their roles as athletes.

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  • A funny thing happened to us on our way to publishing “Just Say Know.” This series was envisioned to focus on the pressures your child faces to use drugs and alcohol and how those pressures relate to their roles as athletes. It’s ended up being a more comprehensive look at the world of high school sports and actually has very little to do with drugs and alcohol. Why? Because no one really wants to talk on record about kids who drink or use drugs. The kids, of course, are happy to tell you anything you want to know. But the parents and schools aren’t likely to approve or give consent if names and examples are used.
    Do we know there’s a drug and alcohol problem in all our local high schools? Yes we do. Do we know bad parents host parties and serve alcohol and some schools and coaches look the other way to keep their superstar athlete eligible? Yes we do. And could we name names if we wanted to? Yes we could. But that’s not the purpose of this series, and frankly, it’s not fair to the schools that for the most part do an excellent job given the pressures they face to please so many people.
    Let me be clear on one thing: We do not have a school or administration problem. We have a parenting problem. I have yet to meet a superintendent, activities director, principal or coach who didn’t care deeply about the kids they educate. The problem is the schools have been given permission to discipline the kids who are involved in activities like sports, debate, etc., for things that don’t even happen on school time. Why is it our schools’ business to discipline our high school kids  if they sneak a beer from the fridge at home on the weekend? Isn’t that supposed to be our job? When exactly did we grant this excessive power to public schools and the Missouri State High School Activities Association (that we own and pay for) and why?
    I have stopped counting the times I run in to moms and dads who just don’t get it. Of course there are great parents who do it right. We will feature a few in this series. But the bad ones seem to have grand delusions of their son’s abilities as an athlete. They schmooze the coaches and athletic directors in hopes their daughter will get more playing time. They turn booster clubs into political playgrounds. And yes, they are in total denial about their kids extra curricular weekend activities.
    Somewhere along the way something changed between our parent’s generation and ours. I think many of us want to be “best friends” with our kids. We have forgotten that our kids don’t want and definitely don’t need to be our best friends. And we have forgotten that what they need (and want) is discipline. And remarkably, we have forgotten all they want us to do is come to their games and be supportive.
    Page 2 of 2 - In the end, we’ve all made mistakes as parents. I have two high school age athletes of my own who are great kids, but not perfect. Both the parents and the kids in our house have made mistakes. So we’re not throwing stones here…. just writing what needs to be written so a dialogue can begin.
    So what’s the purpose of all this? It’s to make you think, and more importantly to make you talk. Talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. You will be shocked at their honesty. Talk to them about the role they want you to serve as it relates to their sports. Talk to the parents of your kid’s friends and share stories. And then release your kid to the game and let the chips fall where they may.
    Finally, support your schools, teachers and coaches. Leave them alone and let them do their jobs. I guarantee they know a lot more about teaching and coaching than you do. In return, let’s ask the schools to stick to coaching and teaching and let us raise our kids.
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