Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Youth Volleyball: Pre-Game Prayer

Wordless Wednesday

Pre-game Prayer

The Main Point

I wish all sporting events started with a prayer. Sadly, pre-game prayers are being banned in secular / public settings.

The terms "Prayer in Sports" or "Sports Prayers" searched on Google and other search portals consistently drives traffic to my site from all over the world. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Youth Sports: The Reality of NCAA Scholarships (Part 2)

Crazy Youth Sports Parent, have you promised your little student-athlete a car if he or she gets a scholarship?

I called my sister on her cell phone the other day but she couldn't talk because she was at the car dealer buying a car for my nephew. She had promised him a new car if he ever got an athletic or academic scholarship. Well, he just got a football scholarship and a new car. My sister thought it was a small price to pay because the scholarship was saving the family $112,000 in tuition and fees. (Coastal Carolina University Out of State is approximately $28,000 per year for 4 years.) My dad had the same deal with me. (I did not earn a scholarship). I have the same deal with my kids.

This type of commitment may bite you in the ass. As you saw in the previous post - the average scholarship is only $10,000 per year. And if you read below, scholarships are not guaranteed. You can buy a car and still end up paying for school.

Misconception #3

All athletic scholarship are guaranteed for all four years. Actually, most scholarships are given for one academic year at a time and are offered with the expectation of renewal each year. The coach, however, has the option to renew, reduce or cancel at his/her discretion. The coach is required to send a written notification to each scholarship athlete on or before July 1 to offer a new scholarship or update the status of an existing scholarship as renewed, reduced or canceled. 

Once a scholarship is offered for an academic year, it can only be reduced or cancelled if 1) the athlete makes him or herself ineligible for NCAA competition by violating NCAA eligibility rules, 2) the information on applications or financial aid documents is discovered to be falsified, 3) the athlete violates school rules or 4) the athlete decides to quit the team. Athletic scholarships cannot be reduced or canceled during the year based an injury that prevents an athlete from participating or poor performance. Furthermore, scholarships cannot be increased in a given year for great performance either.

A new rule in 2012 has opened the door for 4 year guaranteed scholarships. The Big Ten schools and a few others are starting to offer these longer term deals for football only, the sport that make the most money for the school. Students like this because it protects them from losing a scholarship for poor performance on the field. Big Ten coaches currently like it because it provides them with a recruiting advantage. Smaller budget conference coaches hate it because it puts them at a disadvantage to recruit players. Some big money team coaches hate it too. They like the flexibility to cut players who are not earning their scholarships. Many programs over sign players. Which means they offer more scholarships than they have to ensure that they get enough new recruits. Well if too many accept the scholarships, the coach either cuts the recruit or cuts a current scholarship player. For more on the over sign issue, click on oversign.comMost likely the 4 year guaranteed deals will be limited to the high revenue generating sports and all other scholarships will be 1 year renewable deals.

Most coaches will honor their commitment and renew a player's scholarship each year but scholarships are sometimes revoked or reduced.

Here are six situations that can derail a scholarship
  1. A school experiences budgets issues and cuts back on scholarships.
  2. A college drops the sports program. Some colleges will honor the scholarship, but if the sport was dropped for financial reasons the institute may not.
  3. A coach may revoke a scholarship if an athlete consistently fails to meet the minimum academic requirements. (Includes 4 year deals)
  4. A coach may revoke a scholarship if the athlete experiences drug or alcohol issues or violates other team rules.  (Includes 4 year deals)
  5. A coach can cut a scholarship player at the end of a year if he or she does not think that the

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Youth Sports: The Reality of NCAA Scholarships (Part 1)

My nephew just received a full ride to play football for Coastal Carolina. He scored 22 touchdowns in 11 games his senior year. The team’s previous record was 14. Still, my nephew was lucky to get a scholarship at all. He suffered an injury that cut his junior year short after a few games. The injury also significantly cut the number of calls he received from college football coaches and recruiters.
I learned a lot about the quest for a college scholarship from my sister. The biggest thing that I learned is that there are a lot of misconceptions regarding collage scholarships. Over the next couple of posts I will share the statistics and realities of NCAA college scholarships.
Misconception #1
All college athletic scholarships are full rides (4 years of free education plus room and board). Full ride scholarships make up a very small percentage of the scholarships granted. The average is actually about $10,000 per year, a small fraction of the $22,000 to $56,000 cost to go to school each year. Ironically, many youth sports parents spend $5,000 to $10,000 per year from age 11 to 18 preparing their young athlete for a scholarship. My message to you is, if you are investing money in youth sports for a potential NCAA scholarship you are misguided.
The reality is that outside of the money generating sports like football and basketball, full rides are rare. Many institutions simply cannot fully finance sports like soccer, baseball, bowling, golf, lacrosse, men's volleyball, softball, swimming, wrestling and track and field because these sports do not generate a lot of money from attendance and / or media contracts. Typically, women's volleyball players receive full ride scholarships.

The best chance for a full ride is in big money football and basketball. The NCAA allows 85 scholarships for football and 13 for basketball, enough to provide a full ride to every players and schools that generate a lot of money from these programs fully fund these scholarships. For comparison, a low money generating sport like men's soccer can only give 9.9 hardly enough for a squad that consists of about 28 players. Truth be told, many schools do not give the maximum number of scholarships allowed. To attract many quality players, one scholarship is often split and distributed among multiple athletes on a team. A one-year scholarship worth $50,000 is often distributed among 5+ athletes, each getting $10,000 or less per year. It's amount that satisfies a young athlete’s ego, but hardly covers the cost of going to school.
Misconception #2
Athletic scholarships are plentiful. That would be true if every Division I and II school offered the maximum amount of scholarships allowed by the NCAA. (Scholarships are highly regulated by the NCAA.) Here is the reality, only Division I and Division II schools can offer scholarships and the number of scholarships per sport per school is fixed. For example, baseball is only allowed to distribute 11.7 for the entire team each year. A college baseball team typically carries 36 players on a roster.
While the NCAA edict sets a maximum number allowed,  each college can determine how many scholarships they are going to give out based on their own principles and economics. Some schools DI and D2 schools do not offer any athletic scholarships at all. Ivy League teams and the military academies do not offer any athletic scholarships. Others offer some financial assistance through athletic scholarships, but simply cannot afford to offer the maximum number of scholarships.
Here is the hard cold truth - The number of athletes playing with a scholarship full or otherwise is about 140,000. Men’s and women’s hockey has the highest scholarship average per athlete $20,000 per year which is almost 4 times more than the average baseball players pull in.
The chart below indicates how many scholarships are available for reach sport.
The Main Point
Keep pumping money into a 529 college savings plan. Your kid has a 3-5% chance of playing a sport in college and the chances of getting a significant amount of money to play that sport is slim to none. 

Division I                                     Max             Men's            Max        Women's
                                                      #                Teams             #              Teams
                                                   Scholar-                            Scholar- 
                                                    Ships                                  Ships                                     

Baseball /Softball 11.7 291 12 283
Basketball 13 340 15 338
Track & Field 12.6 276 18 316
Football 85 242 0 0
Golf 4.5 290 6 252
Gymnastics 6.3 16 12 61
Field Hockey 0 0 12 77
Ice Hockey 18 34 18 24
Lacrosse 12.6 57 12 90
Rowing 0 0 20 86
Soccer 9.9 197 12 314
Swimming / Diving 9.9 134 8.1 193
Tennis 4.5 258 8 317
Volleyball 4.5 22 12 323
Wrestling 9.9 71 0 0

Division II                                   

Baseball /Softball 9 266 7.2 287
Basketball 10 310 10 312
Track & Field 12.69 184 12.69 201
Football 36 169 0 0
Golf 3.6 233 5.4 170
Gymnastics 5.4 0 6 9
Field Hockey 0 0 6.3 29
Ice Hockey 13.5 24 18 9
Lacrosse 10.8 48 9.9 68
Soccer 9 204 9.9 256
Swimming / Diving 0 70 9 89
Tennis 4.5 178 6 239
Volleyball 4.5 16 8 300
Wrestling 9 61 0 2

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Youth Basketball: Rising Above it All

Wordless Wednesday

2 points at a critical time.
The Main Point

Nic works hard with his strength, agility and conditioning coach. Of course having a mom who held her HS high jump record doesn't hurt.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Youth Basketball: She's Not the Right Color?

The other day, I was talking to a dad from another basketball team. I learned that his daughter played both basketball and soccer in highly competitive leagues just like my daughter. We talked about our crazy schedules. We talked about the eventual need to specialize in one sport. I told him that my daughter has already run into conflicts and had to pass on ODP soccer (Olympic Development Program) because of AAU basketball.

I mentioned to him that my daughter would likely choose basketball and that her dream is to play for UConn. He said, "Our daughters are not exactly the right color for basketball, they'll have a better chance of playing soccer in college."

I was taken aback by this comment by a total stranger. A dead silence followed as I pondered the statement. Was the statement offensive or statistical fact? I was not personally offended but decided that even if it were statistically accurate it was offensive. If he had said that a black girl is not the right color for soccer the statement would be considered offensive even though the sport is mostly played by white athletes in the US college ranks.

Here is the bottom line:

If my daughter wants to play basketball in college, she will need to be in the top 3-5% of all basketball players, black, white or other, when she graduates from high school.

If she wants to play soccer in college she will need to be in the top 5-7% of all soccer players, black, white or other, when she graduates high school.

If you are wondering - here are some statistics.

Chances of playing sports in college
(Percentage of HS senior athletes who move on to play in college - source NCAA)

  • Women's Basketball 3..6%
  • Men's Basketball 3.2%
  • Football 6.0% 
  • Baseball 6.4%
  • Men's Soccer 5.6%

I could not find statistics for women's soccer, but the percentage is probably higher than men's soccer because there are 998 NCAA women's soccer teams and only 804 Men's soccer teams. However, there may be more high school women soccer players that could keep the percentage the same as men.

Ethnic Diversity in NCAA Women's soccer and basketball

According to a report from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports - African American women make up 50.1% of the Division I basketball rosters. White women make up 42.6%. Asian and Hispanic women make up 1.2% each.

The report did not include soccer, so I did a little research on my own by doing

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Youth Sports: Be Patient Benchwarmers, Be Patient

Lessons from Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and the newest sensation Jeremy Lin

How many kids with talent are overlooked because the coach did not see their potential?
How many kids with talent are pigeon-holed in a position that is not right for them and thus never shine?
How many kids with talent sit on the bench because another player is blocking their path?
How many kids with talent quit because the are just not big or tall enough yet?
How many kids with talent simply give up because they lost hope, or lost confidence or lost their competitive edge sitting on the bench?

Then again, how many overlooked kids with talent bide their time, continue to work hard, keep a positive attitude, never give up and finally make it?

The coaches and the scouts are not always right.

Michael Jordan did not make the varsity team of his high school as a sophomore. The coach thought he was too short at 5' 11''. Jordan worked hard on the JV level and worked hard in the off season. He played the final two years on the varsity team and earned McDonald's All-American status. Of course, he went on to North Carolina and then to become one of the greatest NBA basketball players ever.

Would the world know who Michael Jordan is if he decided to concentrate on baseball after he did not make the varsity basketball team as a sophomore?

Tom Brady enrolled in Michigan and was 7th QB on the team depth chart. Brian Griese was the starting quarterback for during Brady's first two years. After Griese left for the pros, Brady had to battle the highly touted Drew Hensen for a starting spot. He won that battle and set a Michigan record for most completions. He also led his team to win 20 of the 25 games he started. Despite this success, he was only drafted in the 6th round (the second to last round) in the 2000 NFL draft, a year with an otherwise unimpressive group of quarterbacks. Brady went to the Patriots and backed up Drew Bledsoe until an injury to Bledsoe gave Brady a chance to shine.

Would the world know who Tom Brady is if he did not continue to fight for the starting spot at Michigan when the highly regarded Drew Hensen showed up or if Tom Brady decided that he did not have a legitimate opportunity as the #4 quaterback on the Patriots his rookie year. (It is rare for a team to keep four QBs). He never lost hope or confidence, he simply prepared for his opportunity.

Jeremy Lin, the sensational new point guard for the Knicks, led his HS team to a California state championships, but only two D1 programs were interested in him, Brown and Harvard. Brown and Harvard are not exactly basketball powerhouses. He went to Harvard and played four years. He became the first Ivy League player to amass more than 1,400 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals,  yet no NBA team drafted him. He joined the 2010/11 Golden State Warriors as an undrafted invitee and saw limited action in 29 games. During the beginning of the 2011/12 season, he was stuck on the Knick's bench until injuries to several Knick players open up a playing opportunity. In Lin's first 4 games as a starter he averaged 27.4 points per game, no one in the history of basketball since the ABA - NBA merger has done that.

Would the world know who Jeremy Lin is if he decided to quit basketball and go to business school to get a MBA - a thought that crossed his mind?

The Main Point

Many talented kids quit when the circumstances become challenging. If your kid is thinking about quitting, then share these stories with them to help them persevere.

And if they do persevere, and never make it after it is all said and done - then the experience of trying and never giving up will payoff in another form - perhaps in business school.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Youth Sports: Take a Time Out for Your Marriage

Last year, my two kids played in 256 games and participated in 180 practices. That's a lot of time dedicated to our kids, so last week, my wife and I took a time out from youth sports to reconnect with each other and refresh for the crazy spring to come.

We spent 6 days in the Caribbean while the kids stayed at home with grandparents.

Although our parents love our kids, the schedule that our kids keep would give anyone pause. I was able to convinced my dad and his wife to watch the kids. And we tried to make it easy for them so that they might consider doing it again.

Here are 13 tips on how my wife and I made watching our youth sports kids easy easier.
  1. Create a very detailed schedule for each day of the week (see example)
  2. Pre-cook and freeze some meals.
  3. Set expectations on homework and bedtime with kids before you leave and with your parents (or whoever is watching your kids)
  4. Clean and set out school and sports uniforms for the week.
  5. Leave a list of contact numbers for doctors, dentists, orthodontist, insurance, school, the parents to your kid's friends (especially those who will be carpooling to practices), the local police / fire, the hotel where you are staying.
  6. Leave medical insurance card(s) and a letter saying that the guardian has been given the right to recommend treatment.
  7. Pick a destination that is easy to get to and from, just in case of an emergency.
  8. Arrange rides to practices with teammates. (I'm sure your parents will

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Youth Sports: Parents Role in Helping Kids Select a School

What role should mom or dad play when a young athlete is choosing a school?

National signing day for NCAA was this week. ESPN makes a big deal out of it. One of the top football recruits in the country, Landon Collins, selected Alabama over his home state school of LSU. His mom is a huge LSU fan and was not happy. Watch the video.

Crazy Youth Sports Parents Alert: It is not about you, mom.


My son, Nic, is only in 8th grade, but he had to proclaim his intentions for a high school this past week too.

Nic had four obvious options. The free public high school in our town with is quite good. Moeller High School where his brother went to school. St. Xavier (the rival school to Moeller) and Cincinnati Christian Hills Academy (CHCA). Although there are pros and cons to each, all four options are strong educational institutions. Some are stronger than others but each will provide a great foundation for college. Nic couldn't make a mistake.

Nic quickly narrowed down to two schools based on baseball, Moeller and CHCA. I was ok that he used baseball as a criteria for selection because both programs were strong academically.

Moeller is a perennial baseball powerhouse. Ken Griffey Jr and Barry Larkin both went to Moeller. Moeller plays in the highest state baseball division. Moeller is a great program to prepare a young baseball player for college level. The program is highly competitive, so getting playing time is not a given.

CHCA is also well know for baseball. They have an amazing coaching staff. They are perennial favorites to win the division II championship every year. CHCA is a much smaller school than Moeller (50 boys per class compared to 200), so the competition for playing time is less.

My son set his sights on Moeller, not because of the academics or the baseball program, but because that is where many of his closest friends are going. He was also impressed with the House System. (Think Hogwarts)

I was pushing my son to go to CHCA because it is an amazing academic school and because he could play baseball, golf and basketball for the school all four years. He loves to compete.

Nic's elementary school is a feeder school for Moeller, so getting accepted into the program is pretty much guaranteed. Gaining acceptance to CHCA is much more competitive. Both schools require an entrance exam.

Nic was dead set on Moeller. He didn't want to shadow at CHCA or take their entrance exam.

What should a parent do?

The Main Point

It is not about me. My son is 14. He's old enough to make his own decisions. I believe that my role as a parent is to guide Nic, not make decisions for him. Well kind of.

He decided he was not going to explore the CHCA option. I explained to him that options in life are good and that he had nothing to lose. I also sensed that he wanted to explore CHCA, but was a afraid he would not get in. So I made him shadow and take the entrance exam. I told him that he would go through the process and then he could decide.

I remember when my older son decided to quit playing soccer in HS. He gathered up the courage to tell me. Much to his surprise, I said that was ok. That it was his life and his decision. I also told him that he was going to tryout for the team and if he made the team he could tell the coach that he didn't want to play. I knew he wanted to play, but was a afraid that he would not make it. He made the team and played.

Nic got into both schools. Together we discussed the pros and cons to each. He then made an informed decision to go to Moeller.

Guide your kids. Teach them how to make decisions. It is a life lesson that needs to be learned.



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