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The Parent'Hood

Bench-warmer son wants to quit baseball

Your son is a bench-warmer on his high school baseball team. Should you let him quit?

By Heidi Stevens, Tribune Newspapers

3:22 PM EDT, May 21, 2013

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Parent advice

From our panel of staff contributors

Not this year. He made a commitment to the team, and he needs to keep it; boredom is not a good reason to quit. I would encourage him to talk with the coach to find out if there was a way to improve his chances of playing at least a little. But come tryout time next year, I would encourage him to find a park district or other league team to join, on which he might have more opportunity to play.

Dodie Hofstetter

He probably knows enough about the game, and of team play, to know whether he has any future with this team or this coach. I'd make sure that he understands that, at the high school level, quitting is forever; there's no turning back. But that understood, high school years are agonizing enough without spending untold hours on a team that won't let you play. Better to say goodbye to the game and find more fulfilling activities.

Phil Vettel

Yes. If he's really not happy, let him go. It's hard, I know, for parents to let go of that superjock fantasy for their kids, but not everyone is athletic, or suited for team sports. He may — dare I say it? — just detest baseball.

Bill Daley

Expert advice

"This is a complicated issue involving many factors," says sports psychologist Frank L. Smoll, co-author of "Parenting Young Athletes: Developing Champions in Sports and Life" (Rowman and Littlefield). "What are his aspirations, athletically? How does this fit in with or infringe on his other goals and activities, such as academics? What does he want out of this experience?"

Ask your son to consider these questions and try to suss out whether any underlying issues are at play.

"There may be more to it than, 'Gee, I'm not getting my playing time,'" Smoll says. "Maybe he doesn't get along with the coach. Maybe he's not having a good experience with his teammates."

When you have a sense of the full picture, talk to the coach and see if there are ways to help your son increase his playing time: drills you can run together, a new position he can try, a different approach at practices.

Remind your son that he committed to this team for the season.

"Young athletes owe it to themselves and others to honor their commitments," says Smoll, who offers coach and parent education tips online at y-e-sports.com. "You tried out for this team by your free will and when you don't feel like you're getting enough playing time, you don't just say, 'I'm out of here.'"

Then help him make his decision accordingly.

"This is where the life experience lessons come in," Smoll says. "Youth sports aren't just fun and games. They're an educational medium to learn lessons they will carry over to everyday life.

"Sport, by its very nature, is a very selective system," he says. "Playing time is an earned entity based on ability to perform. That's the reality of sport and part of the reality of later life. You don't get that raise on the job unless you perform."

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