Son Giving Too Much Time to Sports

Updated on December 21, 2015
K.H. asks from Upper Jay, NY
11 answers

15 year old ds has been playing golf for a couple of years with his friends and seems to really enjoy it. So much so that he hasn't been giving academic work enough time and enthusiasm. I think he has been content to just 'do enough' academic wise and while his grades are ok, we think he can do a lot better if he really tried. DH encourages him to play golf which is fine, its great that he's so enthusiastic about it. Personally though, I think he needs to spend more time on academics. After a recent chat about this he said he had to keep up golf as much as possible as he would dis-improve otherwise, he also pointed out he's doing ok in school. Its hard to disagree with him when he's so enthusiastic about it but I guess I have to take a hard line here? I do believe he's capable of doing better academically, but I guess he has to want it himself? Its not that he has no ambition, but I guess he needs to change priorities? Husband thinks we should let him figure it out for himself but I'm not so sure....any similar experiences?

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answers from Philadelphia on

My friend sent out an email stating all the things she wished she had known when her daughter was a freshman. Her daughter sat down senior year to apply for colleges and really didn't have an impressive application. The following are some of the main points...

Grades matter - the first thing colleges want to know is your GPA and your class rank if your school reports it.

Take as many honors classes and AP classes as you can (this will effect your class ranking and GPA since these classes are weighted)


Leadership positions

Volunteer work

Awards and special recognition

I would share this list with your son and talk about his future plans. If he wants to go to college he should start thinking about how he looks on paper now and make improvements where necessary.

By the time they are in HS I think the saying that "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink it" applies.

Good luck.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Our son is in 11th grade (17 yrs old) and is a 4th don black belt in taekwondo, plays clarinet in symphonic band, and does target archery at the range.
He knows if his grades start to suffer then his activities need to fall by the wayside.
Fortunately he's managed to keep up his straight A's the whole way and will occasionally work on homework or extra credit till 2am if he needs to get the work done.
We don't need to threaten or make him do anything.
He's the first one to tell us "Mom, I've got a project I need to work on. There's won't be time for archery tonight." although he hates it when that happens and often works ahead or sometimes skips lunch to get his work done so he has time for his fun.
We've been telling him for years "the quickest way to fun is to get the work done" - and he believes it and lives it.
We're very excited about his coming senior year and his prospects for scholarships and colleges.

It's hard when you and Dad are not pulling together on this.
You can't say "You need to skip some golf and bring up those grades" if Dad is saying "Never mind the grades - passing is good enough - go play some golf.".
Is your son hoping for a golf scholarship?
If he's good it's a possibility but I'm sure they will take his grades into consideration.
Colleges like well rounded candidates but grades and SAT / ACT scores are all an important part of it.

I think you and Dad need to get on the same page and present a united front so your son can't play you off each other.
Then you can both sit him down and say "You pulled a C in history. So until you pull that up to a B or better, you'll be spending one night a week with a tutor and on that night there will be no golf. When the grade(s) go up - you can spend as much time with golf as you like.".
Reward his efforts - but he's GOT to MAKE some effort!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

As someone who is back in college, but remembers enough of my past experiences through H.S. & my failings/successes in college the first time around, I would say the important part of "getting good grades" is not necessarily the grades themselves, but the application that you put into obtaining them.

In H.S., there is a lot of hand-holding... A LOT! Quizzes, papers, homework, tests... and the pace of the material is much slower. Once you get to college, there is no requirement to attend class. Even if you do attend, there is work outside of class to make sure you understand the material, & assigned readings for information that might not be covered during lectures. Homework is often for your own benefit, & not for grade.

So if your son is learning that he can "get by" with the amount of effort he is putting in now, he will find it extremely difficult to succeed in college, when the material is ramped up & the expectations for daily work are not required for his grade. Depending on the types of classes he is planning to take, sometimes that works OK, but not always (pretty much not at all for STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

Pulling him out of the extracurricular activity he enjoys to make him buckle down on schoolwork isn't necessarily the best option - there are students in college that are involved in sports with daily practice, or who work part-time, etc. So learning to balance schoolwork with other activities is important. It sounds like he needs to find out how to approach his work efficiently to get the most out of what he puts in, & get the better grades as a result. Maybe he can talk to someone about how to adjust his approach to do that. Good luck! T. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

We can't spend all day doing what we enjoy. We have to attend to our responsibilities. The fact that your son is into golf as a "sport" doesn't matter. What would you say if someone posted the same question but changed "golf" and "sport" to "video games" or "poker"? What would you say about a dad who encourages a child to do more, and a child who says he will "dis-improve" if he does less? Would you point out to both the incredible fallacy of neglecting school work (not just homework, but critical thinking skills and being a better reader and learning all the things he will need in his future jobs)? Or would you say, "No, listen, _______ is a privilege and something you earn by completing the rest of your responsibilities to the best of your ability, not just squeaking by." He's very likely not going to get a golf scholarship (and if he does, there will be a GPA requirement which he will not meet because he doesn't know how to study). And he's not going into the PGA (and even if he did, it's pretty tough to earn a living until he's 65), so other than the basic math of keeping score and the general advantage to being out in the fresh air, what's he learning here? He's 15 and learning that he can do what he wants if he just does the minimum at school.

I don't think he needs to be pushed into being an A student all the time, but if his teachers think he's slacking off and just getting by, then he's not learning the life skill of doing what's expected of you. He's going to cruise the same way though his part-time jobs and ultimate career - "I'm doing okay" isn't enough for an employer/supervisor, and it's not going to get him into college.

I think your husband may be encouraging him because he feels golf is decently wholesome, and if he's on the golf course then maybe he's not hanging with bad kids and doing drugs. But you and your husband need to be on the same page with each other before you can implement any changes in your son's schedule.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Is he on his school's golf team or are we talking hobby here? If he's on the team, he has academic standards to maintain to stay on the team. There are opportunities for golf scholarships at colleges/universities as well. It would be a good idea to do some research. I think you can talk to your son about your concerns, but you cannot make him do anything. Sure, you could punish him by taking away what he loves, but I think that would give him something to rebel against. His grades could potentially get worse if you take away golf. Academics are important, but they aren't the only thing that's important. Does he do any volunteering? Does he have a job or will he get a job when he's 16?

I think a better approach would be to talk about his future plans. Does he want to go to college? What are the standards he has to meet to get into those colleges? Is a golf scholarship something he wants to go for? And then ask what can you do to help him achieve these goals. His grades are "ok" in his opinion, but is he struggling? Is he bored? Maybe he needs to choose more challenging classes. Maybe he needs tutoring. Grades alone seldom tell the whole picture. Maybe he needs you to set some time limits on extracurricular activities, but not discontinue them entirely. Set aside specific time for homework and studying. Give him some chances to improve before you do anything drastic.

Communication with your son is key. I think you all can reach a solution that works for everyone without banning golf.

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answers from Washington DC on

i think there's a great, pretty wide middle ground where you can all meet.
first off, congrats for raising a teen this far who is getting decent grades and is enthusiastic about an outdoors sport that doesn't involve a big party lifestyle. just look at all the posts here from parents desperate to amputate their kids' connection to a screen.
but i think this sport as with all sports needs to be kept in its appropriate place. unless he's a prodigy with a real shot of getting college scholarships and a career out of it, then yeah, you're right that he needs to make his studies a priority.
there's no way i'd hold his passion over his head as a whip (and i'm glad you have not suggested this, but i'm betting there is advice that you should.) his golf is a GOOD thing. but i think your DH can move a little over to your side by encouraging academics even more.
not curtailing or denigrating the golf. just emphasizing how important the grades are. encouraging the schoolwork side of things. maybe offering some incentives. have him to talk to college recruiters or counselors so that he hears from them (not you- all parents sound like charlie brown parents when we start 'advising') what's required.
15 year olds have boundless energy. he can keep up his golf skills AND do better in school if he applies himself. and he'll apply himself more enthusiastically if you are his ally than his goad.
i get your husband's perspective, but 15 year olds aren't mature yet. they need help from their parents in figuring this stuff out. my dad still stoutly maintains that he was right to stay totally hands off when i was trying to figure out 'what to do after high school' and in retrospect i can see how desperately i needed a little guidance and encouragement. i'd have had a totally different after-grad experience if he'd offered just a little help.

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answers from Washington DC on

Make participation in golf contingent on maintaining a certain GPA, or certain grades in specific classes, however you want to arrange it. Don't let him talk you into caving on this or that. The golfing is a privilege and he's treating it like it's a right; be sure you make very clear that there is no right to play.

It's not clear to me from the post if he plays competitively on a school golf team or other organized, competitive team. The post makes me think he does not and this is casual golf with friends, but a lot of it. If he is on a team for school, his grades should already be part of the equation -- the school should have a minimum GPA for playing but that does not mean YOU can't set a higher one. If this is just golf with friends, however much he loves it, then you do need to take charge and make it totally contingent on whatever measurement of school success you believe is reasonable.

You don't seem to disagree when he says he is doing "OK" in school, so if this is a case of he's not making straight As, well, he might not be a straight A guy. But if this is a case of mediocrity when, before golf took over, he was on a stronger academic track -- then it's time to get the golf into perspective.

Dad may mean well but if he waits for son to figure this out himself, you will end up soon with a high school junior who is on not on a great path heading toward college.

If there is teacher at school whom son likes and trusts, I would ask that teacher to talk with son about his potential and how he's not fulfilling it -- and why at age 15 that does start to matter, if he wants to see past high school.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

"we think he can do a lot better if he really tried"

You think, or you know? It is an important distinction. If he used to do a lot better and now does significantly worse, then there may be a problem. If he has always been average then this may be his best.

Think about it, and make sure you have a real reason to rock this boat before you do anything.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Just curious if his golfing buddies are keeping up with their schoolwork? I think our job as parents is to help learn balance. If he wants to golf professionally, great, but he should also work toward some back up options. There are a lot of great young golfers out there wanting the same scholarship he does. And there will be a lot of pro golfers competing for the club jobs, etc.

A friend of ours moved to be a pro golfer working for Dick' s Sporting Goods. The company was losing money and cut all or a bunch of these positions. He couldn't find a job and had to sell their home and move to an apt.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

At 15 I would not let him figure this out for himself. He's 15 and on the cusp of some big things. How good is his golf? Does he want to go to college? Do you think he could get an athletic scholarship? These are big issues coming up and I would help him look at all the angles. What do his teachers say about his grades/work? Do they think he can do better? Does he? If he wants to go to college, he will need skills in more than golf. My oldest son worked hard all during high school. He is athletically talented, is smart, and worked to keep his grades high. He worked hard at his sport, too, which is running and requires hours of practice per week. It's all a lot of commitment. The result was that he was offered scholarships at several division 1 schools. He was able to go to a college we would never in a million years been able to afford if he were not to get both athletic and academic scholarships. I'm not saying to push your son into something like this, but if it is in the realm of possibility for him, it will be fantastic for him. It's time for him to really think about what he wants to do in his life and what he is capable of doing and decide how much he wants to work for it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

You know, normally I think school comes first. There ARE very important things that kids do that can get them into college even if their grades are mediocre. Our girl does several things in the evening hours and she does a LOT of them. She also acts, sings in musicals, and even finds time to go to church. She is a good student for the most part too.

I also think that some of these things she does, and your son's golf, can lead to scholarships and even careers without college.

I have a friend who made well over a hundred thousand per year playing golf on a circuit. Not sure which one because I really really really really find myself completely bored by golf. He traveled all over before they had kids and won his living. Now he works in real estate and is the golf pro at a country club. He gives private lessons and makes a salary from the club. He has a totally easy life and it's very comfortable. His wife doesn't have to work and there are 4 kids. They live in a 3000+ home with an exercise room, media room, office that's a third of a floor of their house, and more.

He played a lot of golf in high school too and didn't go to college.

I expect my granddaughter to earn scholarships for college to supplement her financial aid. We certainly can't afford to send her to college without that financial help.

Yes, school is important but if they truly love something and they're good at it that one thing might be where they are supposed to do in life. So, help him find a balance. Then help him find ways to enjoy his talents and still pay the right amount of attention to school.

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