As a sports parent I am always paying attention to new developments. Recently ESPN announced that it will air 26 high school football games this season. Concerns have been expressed about this move, saying that adding the pressure of a television performance will diminish an athletes’ focus on school. Does an athlete really want to win a game more just because it is on television? As the mother of a high school athlete, and a certified sports parent, I can tell you the desire to play hard and win is strong no matter who is watching, live or on TV. The pressure that I am hearing people muse about relates to outside forces driven by money and ratings. It is real, but athletes don’t have to feel it if they have capable, vigilant, common sense driven parents standing with them, and, if necessary, in between them and the outside world. As a parent it is your job to be the first line of defense against people and opportunities that could potentially overwhelm your student athlete. Truthfully your job as a sports parent hasn’t really changed since your kids were in pee wee sports. You still need to make sure that they have the correct equipment and uniform, a clear understanding of the rules, a solid nutritional base, proper rest, sufficient hydration, open communication with coaches, and a safe environment in which to play and thrive. Most importantly you have to know when to say NO; not just when to say it, but the courage to do so when necessary.
My son Skyler plays basketball. He is extremely good at it. Has been for years. In elementary school everyone wanted Skyler to play for their team. He could have played year round for several teams at the same time. He wanted to. He wanted to play 24/7, for everyone. But he didn’t. He didn’t because we didn’t let him. We as his parents made sure that he wasn’t spread too thin and had enough time to focus on his studies as well as being a kid, whether he liked it or not.
Now my son is 15, a sophomore at a one of the top high schools in the state. He plays for his school during the regular season and an AAU team during the Summer season, period. I love it when his games are broadcast on the website High School Game Cube because that way my parents can be a part of the action in real time even though they can’t be there cheering him on in person. But the broadcasts are also helpful in his quest for entrance to higher education via sports (in addition to his academics). The NCAA has rules about when college coaches can observe a student athlete live. Having games on TV or the internet gives them access to more athletes, opening up future possibilities that might not have been available in a closed circuit world. But even if your child’s games don’t air on TV or a website, you can still gain exposure for them through social media, crafting a social footprint on their behalf to showcase their skills and accomplishments to the outside world. As a dedicated sports parent I have started doing that for Skyler, creating a hashtag of the conversation, (#Skyler2016), and engaging with the coaches and scouts who will have a say in his future opportunities.
Social Media, TV exposure, Internet Streaming, team invites are all like fire, they can heat and sustain, and they can burn and destroy. It is our job as sports parents to educate our kids on how to use these things properly, safely, and ultimately to their benefit. It’s our job.
Friday, Sept. 3 at 12 p.m. ET, HLN‘s “Raising America with Kyra Phillips” will be focusing on the pressure put on young athletes. Can high school football stars handle the pressure? Tweet @KyraHLN with the #RaisingAmerica hashtag or leave your thoughts on Facebook.com.
Additional work from Miss Lori can be found at
You can also see her Activating to Be Great at