Student With Sports Scholarship Doesn't Want to Play

I am a parent of a child that is currently in college and is almost done with his first year. In high school he was a football star. He was one of the best players in the state. He got a football scholarship to his University.


He is almost done with his first year of college football and I can tell he doesn't feel the same about football as he once did. He always complains about it and talks about going to school closer to home and not playing anymore.

I first thought he just missed living at home (which is normal), but during January they have time off from football and his mood was totally different during that month. He never came home or called much and when I would call him he would go on and on how much fun he is having and how great everything is.

Now that February started and football meetings and workouts are going again he is coming home every weekend, and his attitude has totally changed.

I don't want him to quit, but he just looks unhappy when football is going on. He has been playing since 7th grade so he is going on his eighth year of playing football. For those eight years its been his life and I don't want to see him throw that all away to transfer to a college closer to home, but at least he would still be getting a degree.

However, football is what has defined him the past eight years. What should I do? Should I talk to him tell him I can tell he is unhappy and tell him it's okay to quit? Or should I tell him to tough it out? Maybe its time for him to move on, he has been doing it for a long time. At the same time it seems he would be throwing a lot away. Help?

By Joseph from Spokane,WA

February 18, 20100 found this helpful

I went through a thing kind of like this when I was in college. I was in my 3rd year and realized that I didn't think I'd be happy working in my field of study. I lived with my parents (college was in the same town), so one night I sat up, wrote a heart-felt letter to them explaining my feelings and how miserable I was, and told them that I wanted to take time off. I was also very worried about disappointing them, which made me even unhappier. That was a long night. I cried a lot, and I left the letter on the kitchen table. We did a little talking that morning, but everyone had to get to work/school, so we spoke more that night. More crying.

Ultimately, they didn't want me to be miserable. Everything worked out in the end. I worked while living at home for a while. Moved away with my fiance, got married, worked for a doctor, became pregnant and quit working to be a stay at home mom. Now I volunteer at my daughter's school, and make/sell jewelry and cards. Is it some big fancy job? Nope. But I'm happy. We owe maybe $35K on our house, and that's all of our debt. I feel successful in life.

If you think your son will be completely honest with you, I think you need a heart-to-heart. What's most important to him? What's most important to you? Some people want a certain job no matter what. Others want a certain salary no matter what. If you truly feel/believe that he needs to stay at his current college and keep with football, but he wants to stop football and/or change schools, maybe suggest a compromise. Encourage him to try for another year, and if he still feels the same, he can make the changes with your blessings. You're going to have to gauge how desperate he is and what is motivating him. Discuss your concerns, and listen to his. Maybe together you can come to a solution.

I hope this works out for all of you. I started college almost 20 years ago. I was so stressed when I realized how unhappy I was. I don't think I would have been better off to stick with what I was doing. Ultimately he's grown and can do whatever he wants (unless you're financing everything for him, then you have more leverage). He needs to be happy. Best of luck. I wish both of you happiness and success. Let us know how it goes!

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February 19, 20100 found this helpful

I agree that you need to get things out in the open, and find out why he dislikes football now. Is he just tired of it, or is there a problem in college that he didn't face when he was in HS?

Either way, he needs to have a chance to talk things out, so he can decide what he wants to do with his remaining college years. There's a big difference between being a quitter, and knowing when to quit. The former is a bad trait, the latter is wisdom. If it would enrich his life to quit and pursue something else, then he definitely needs to take that path. Success in life is having a passion for your work, and it sounds as if he's lost his passion for football.

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February 19, 20100 found this helpful

I went to college and didn't quit my major because I thought I'd disappoint my family. I was so unhappy, but didn't know what to do because my major was all I knew. I'd say have an open, honest talk with your son. Let him know you love him no matter what he wants to do. There are other ways to get a college education. It may be a bit of an adjustment, but it can be done.

Your son may not know who he is outside of football. You say it defined him for a long time. We all go through changes and find new things about ourselves - maybe that's what your son is doing. You sound like a great parent, and your son is so lucky to have you! I'd say he may be more worried about it that you are! A good, honest talk paired with support and love go a long way! Good luck to you, and do let us know how all is going!

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February 19, 20100 found this helpful

Oh my gosh! Talk to the young man. Your son is reaching out to you for something. I raised 2 boys and do they need to talk to parents or mentors! If he wont talk to you, call the school and speak to someone who can talk to him.

Parenting is difficult, and it never stops!

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February 20, 20100 found this helpful

Could your son be having a hard time because he's gone from being a star in high school, and in college he's not getting as much attention/praise? He's a little fish in a big pond now,instead of a big fish in a little pond? He's also facing new freedoms and temptations that would be distracting from the hard work of football. Sounds to me like he'd rather have fun partying than do the hard practices and boring meetings that football requires, especially boring if he's not a star player anymore.

I think being in a sport is important. This is a teaching moment. And there is a huge void in our society of people willing to honor their commitments, humble themselves for the sake of others and fight through hard times without giving up. Good luck to you. Call the coach and ask his opinion and then talk to your son. I'm sure the coach has seen this behavior many times. You sound like a wonderful dad. Follow your instincts.

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February 20, 20100 found this helpful

Sit down with him and have a good talk about what is going on. It could be he is tired of football and if that is what it is don't push him to play. It is not fair to him or the other players to have a player on the team who does not want to be there. Plus it could do more damage. My father in law made my husband play football in high school and that was the worse thing he could have done. My husband after finishing high school did not want anything else to do with sports so my children were not interested in sports.

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February 20, 20100 found this helpful

My son lived and breathed his sport. It defined him and he was known for it. He too started college playing it. He changed his major to stay on the team, and hated every minute of it. His second year, he went back to the major he'd initially wanted, but some of his classes were at the same time as practice. Coaches are unrelenting. He was told to decide what was most important to him, his decided degree or his sport. He ultimately chose his degree. Without any help from us, he decided that even if he did really well at his sport in college, he'd probably make little money at it after school.

His degree would make his future comfortable. He's finishing his pHD at a leading university now, and will lead an extremely comfortable life. Your son is an adult--trust him to make the right choices in his life. If he chooses incorrectly, it will be a life-lesson for him. We all fall and have to pick ourselves up and go on. Support him, but allow him to live his own dream, not yours. He has his reasons, right or wrong, and it is his time to either revel in them or face the consequences. Sports aren't the only way to teach young adults.

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February 20, 20100 found this helpful

I would not talk to the coach. He is for himself not your son. If your son does not want to play he shouldn't play. This has nothing to do with commitment, it has to do with your son deciding what he wants to do. That decision has to be about him, not the coach or the team. That is what college is, preparing you for the future. If his future is not in football then he needs to get out and go with what he really wants to do.

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February 21, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with the others who have suggested that you need to talk to your son. You need to find out what the problem is -- is he tired of football, is it a different situation than in high school, is there some sort of conflict with his coach, maybe there is even some sort of abuse going on -- you need to find out what the problem is. College should be enjoyable. If your son is hating it because of football, than ditch the football. There must be other ways to finance his education.

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February 21, 20100 found this helpful

How are your sons grades? If they are fine during football and suffer when not in foot ball the other poster may be correct, he may be more into the social scene then the studying. Football in college is much more demanding than in high school. They structure everything for you. From practice to diet to how you represent the school. Where in high school you are the star and are treated as such and many exceptions are made for the "talent".

If his grades are good all of the time and he is just tired of football. Let him research how he will pay for school and other necessities if he lets the scholarship go and has to support himself through school. This is the perfect opportunity for you to open lines of communication with him and teach a pretty important life lesson at the same time. With commitment comes responsibility. Once he sees what his college career will cost him without using his athletic talents he may have a change of heart and embrace the responsibility he has to the school for the gift of a free education.

I know many a child who would have loved the chance to get a higher degree of education but just couldn't do to the financial restraints. Whatever the outcome I wish you the best.

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