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Collegiate sports: is it for fun or for money?
eli cranor
Syndicated sports columnist Eli Cranor

Dear Athletic Support: My daughter is on the high school track team. She’s a very good athlete (at least she was, before the world shut down). She triple jumps, pole vaults, and runs the 4x100 meter relay. She hates the running and begs her coach constantly to pull her from the race. To make matters worse, she says her ankles and knees hurt all the time. I want my daughter to be a team player, but I don’t want her to destroy her body due to overuse. What’s the best way for me to handle this with my daughter and her coach? — Momma In The Middle 


Dear Middle: See if the coach will make a deal with your daughter. If she wins the pole vault and triple jump, then she doesn’t have to run the relay. Maybe this will give her extra motivation to place as high as possible in the other two events, and the points will help the team in the end. If she’s really as good as she thinks she is, winning the field events shouldn’t be a problem.


Dear Athletic Support: My son redshirted last year for an in-state DII football program. He mainly played scout team and got his head busted daily by the starters. I get it. I played scout team my freshman year in high school and college too. What I don’t understand is the fact that my son now wants to quit football. I think he’ll have a good chance to get off the scout team this season (if we actually play), but he says he just doesn’t care. He’s on scholarship, and if he quits, I’m going to start paying a whole lot more money for his school. Of course, I want him to do what’s best for him, but I also don’t want him to take the easy way out. — Paying For It


Dear Paying: Freshmen year of college sports is a killer. It’s a completely different experience than high school athletics. In many ways, collegiate sports are a job. Class from 8-2. Practice from 2-6. Then study hall at 7-9. Couple all that with in-season travel on the weekends, and it’s easy to see how young players can get burnt out.

However, quitting is never a fun option, and in many cases (like yours) it can be costly.

Maybe you should explain the financial situation to your son. If he quits football, he’ll need to recoup the expenses some other way. Who knows, maybe after you put it to him like that, college football will look like a pretty good job after all. 


Dear Athletic Support: I am sadly perplexed that in your recent column you did not suggest a simple way to mitigate the effects of sun on a youngster taking Accutane: sunscreen.

A broad-spectrum, sport-grade sunscreen would help considerably, as would making sure practices were held as early in the day as possible.

Ideally the coach should recommend that all players use sunscreen.

— Pat, former middle school soccer coach and parent of boy and girl twins who each lettered in 3 sports their senior year of high school (one took Accutane as well).


Dear Pat: Sunscreen can go a long way, and you’re right, I should’ve mentioned it. But from my experiences, sunscreen is a risky solution. 

It’s risky because players sweat and wipe their faces constantly (especially football players who must take their helmet off and on). Yes, sports-grade sunscreen can last longer, but not long enough. 

These days, football teams travel all over the summer to camps and 7on7 tournaments. These are all day events. Even the most responsible kid isn’t going to be reapplying his sunscreen every hour between drills. 

In the end, you’re right — players should apply sunscreen in the morning. But I’d urge them to bring a hat along too, especially if they have a long day ahead of them.

 Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to 

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