Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

If Tim Tebow has trouble going pro, then what about your kid?

with 2 comments

Blanket coverage of Florida quarterback/living anti-abortion protest Tim Tebow tends to be annoying, though it’s a godsend (no pun intended, quarterback-who-wears-Bible-verses-on-his-eyeblack) for the first week of the Super Bowl pregame trudge. The coverage of Tebow’s appearance in Saturday’s upcoming Senior Bowl college all-star game has focused on how a player considered one of the greatest college football players ever is going to suck at the professional level.

The consensus is that Tebow, who led his team to two national titles and won the Heisman Trophy his sophomore year, doesn’t have the quick throwing motion or pinpoint accuracy necessary for the NFL. To hear some scouts talk, it’s amazing Tebow would be able even to walk onto an NFL field without his someone tying his shoes for him. From USA Today:

Tim Tebow did not elevate himself into a top-echelon NFL draft QB prospect at this week’s Senior Bowl practices, ESPN analyst Todd McShay said Thursday.

Tebow, who drew attention on Monday when he struggled taking snaps under center in practice, still has talent but doesn’t yet have the makeup for a successful pro quarterback, McShay reasoned.

“He’s practiced, he’s gone through every drill, he’s shown improvement in terms of getting snaps under center and he’s working at it,” McShay said. “But he’s just not there.”

So what does this have to do with your kid?

Every time your athletic child advances a level — whether from 7-year-old to 8-year-old or junior high to high school — the competition gets tougher. Kids who aren’t interested or aren’t able drop out, but the strongest ones stay in. Where they were five leagues, there might now be the same number of kids competing for spots in three. Three junior highs feed into one high school. On a younger level, kids who grew way ahead of everyone else find others catching up to their size, or their ability.

The key to success at negotiating up each level is not the innate talent and mastery of opponents displayed at the earlier level. If that were the case, Tim Tebow would be a top-five NFL pick. Moving up is a process of starting over again, and, yes, while advantages in talent and size help, what helps more is the young athlete’s (and his or her parents’) ability to handle the initial setbacks. If the child athlete can learn from them and improve, then he or she has a shot at continuing to move up. If the child athlete is nothing but frustrated — and this can happen with kids who have shown ability as well as those who have struggled at earlier levels — then it might be time to start thinking about how much of a future a certain sport might have.

Certainly, Tebow is going to be going pro. The Jacksonville Jaguars might want him in hopes he sells tickets to a franchise whose attendance has stumbled. But other teams might say that even though things that worked in college for Tebow won’t work in the pros, he’s shown the mental fortitude to overcome those initial setbacks and improve his game. That will be the determination of whether he thrives in the NFL. And that, usually, is the determination of whether your 9-year-old can handle moving up the ladder as a 10-year-old.


Written by rkcookjr

January 29, 2010 at 2:40 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Bob – just read you column for the first time and went back to read all of your others. Good stuff – every parent with a kid involved in youth sports should have this as required reading. Several of my fellow sports parents play the ‘classify the parent’ game every year at the beginning of practice. You covered all the stereotypes well!

    People should remember the percentages about pro football or even Division 1 (FBS) NCAA football. If you are good enough to make starter on a Div. 1 team you have about a 4% chance of being drafted by an NFL team. Including all 3 divisions in the NCAA – less than 1%.

    Parents – make you kids study and let them have a life. And save up for college…

    Good work Bob – keep it coming.


    January 30, 2010 at 3:17 pm

  2. Thank you, bradfeaker, for your eager reading. For those of you new to the site, Your Kid’s Not Going Pro isn’t meant as a negative so your child should never pursue a dream. It’s meant to be a statement that frees you as a parent from feeling the need to get sucked into a huge investment in sports that you would otherwise feel compelled to make. On the opposite end, there are plenty of players on the Colts and Saints that were told at some point that they couldn’t go pro, yet they’ll be playing this Sunday. The question of athletic involvement comes down to, is everyone enjoying it? The Tebow story is a reminder that you keep moving up the athletic ladder not for any guarantee of a pro career (or making the high school team), but because it’s a pursuit you and your child enjoy.

    Bob Cook

    January 31, 2010 at 10:41 pm

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