Dear Athletic Support: I was an over-the-top father of three outstanding varsity athletes. I was the loudmouth who challenged the referees and overwhelmed my children with endless advice.
Fortunately, they succeeded academically and athletically, despite my constant hounding. Some things don’t change. My eldest grandson is a superior varsity athlete and student. Recently, he was invited into the National Honor Society. I was beaming with pride until I heard he’d declined the invitation. A tad smarter as a septuagenarian, I refrained from direct intervention. Instead, I appealed to my son (the boy’s dad) about the decision. As a former high school teacher, I told him I thought NHS provided a ticket to college entrance, overriding athleticism and top-notch grades. My son explained that after talking to his boy and assessing his reasoning, he was okay with whatever his son wanted to do. I’ve now stepped out of the conversation, yet this granddad still worries his grandson may be hurting his chances at college admission. Suggestions please! — Loudmouth Granddad
Dear Loudmouth: First off, let me commend you on your restraint. Grandparents oftentimes find themselves in sticky situations when it comes to their children’s parenting decisions. Whether that situation involves sports, academics, or day-to-day discipline—it’s always best for a grandparent to let the parent make the final call.
In regard to the National Honor Society, I don’t believe membership will matter much when it comes to college admissions. However, NHS does offer scholarships exclusively to its members. So if your grandson is looking for extra dough when it comes time to pay for tuition, he could very well be excluding himself from a shot at more money.
From an athletic-minded side, though, I think I can see where your grandson might be coming from. Being a member of NHS requires a certain level of time commitment. There are service projects to complete and meetings to attend. I’m not sure how many sports your grandson plays, or what his schedule is like, but maybe he just didn’t have enough time in the day.
You’re probably screaming, “Time?! This is the National Honor Society we’re talking about!” But please, hear me out. One of the best ways for young athletes to achieve the ever-elusive “full scholarship” is by doubling up on athletic and academic money.
Outside of football, basketball, gymnastics and tennis, there’s no such thing as a full scholarship in collegiate athletics.
And in the smaller classifications—like Division II and NAIA—it’s even hard for those four sports to offer full rides.
So maybe your grandson is hedging his bets. Maybe he’s realized there’s only so much time in a day, and he’s splitting that time between athletics and academics in hopes of earning multiple scholarships. Maybe that’s why he turned the National Honor Society down.
The only way you’ll know for certain is if you talk to him about it. Just be sure to choose your words carefully. The last thing you want to do is be a loudmouth about it.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit elicranor.com.