Make sure you understand why your son wants to quit


November 13, 2005|By CAL RIPKEN JR.

How do you get kids to appreciate the benefits of cross training in various sports? My 13-year-old son wants to give up basketball this winter to focus on baseball. I want to support his decision, but I think he's making a big mistake. Should I continue encouraging him to play basketball, or back off?

- Jim Hurley, Cleveland, Ohio

DEAR JIM / / Examine the reasons why he is doing this. Make sure you have all the facts. Sometimes there is a hidden reason that you need to get to. Let the decision be his but make sure that you are presenting all of the issues to him so he can make a smart and well thought out decision. When I was in high school, I made a choice to not play basketball and I did it because I was recruited to play winter soccer. Well, honestly that was only part of the reason. The other reason was the whole "shirts vs. skins" way of differentiating teams. I was underdeveloped physically at that time and was embarrassed. A simple thing like reversible shirts would have kept me in basketball. To this day, I regret that decision. I believe that other sports develop your overall athleticism. Spend the time and try your best to get the whole picture, then let it go and trust his decision. As an adult this seems like a small issue, but remember that to a 13-year old it is a significant one!

Our two sons spend all their free time watching baseball games on TV, listening on the radio, playing against each other, trading cards, etc.We're concerned that they're too obsessed with baseball, and it's causing them to neglect school, friends, family and other interests. What should we do?

- Tzadik Vanderhoof, Baltimore

DEAR TZADIK / / A passion for anything is wonderful to see in young people. That being said, it seems as though their love of baseball is starting to create an imbalance in their life. I suggest you sit with them and explain that, while you love their enthusiasm for baseball, you don't want them to miss out on all of the other great things life has to offer.

In the end, please tell them that, for someone who spent his entire life around the game and who loves the game very much, I have always believed that there is more to life than baseball!

Where we live, there was an attempt made to not schedule games before noon on Sundays. Unfortunately, so many children play that Sunday morning time has been encroached upon many times for different types of games or tournaments. As a father, how can I instill my values in my son that coming to church on Sunday mornings with his family is more important than playing a baseball game?

- Apostolos Giannas, Abingdon, Md.

DEAR APOSTOLOS / / It is true that, in this day and age of travel teams, and with all sports being "organized," scheduling can be a challenge. It comes down to a decision as to what is important to you as a family. Perhaps you can look at the church schedule and see if there are other services that can be attended on Saturday or later in the day on Sunday. If that cannot be done, or if it is something that you are uncomfortable doing, you can meet with league officials and explain your concerns. If there are other parents who share your concerns, you may want to approach the league together. You may also want to look at other leagues - perhaps even in other towns - with schedules that work better for you. It may result in a less convenient commute to your son's practices and games, but if there's a will, there's a way. The bottom line is that we live in a diverse society with different values, but what counts are the priorities and values that are a part of your family.

Have a question or issue arising from your involvement in youth sports? Send it by e-mail to

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