15 yr. old son quitting sports

poppingraysMay 27, 2009

I just wanted to throw this in the mix to see what sort of insights any of you may have. I have a 15 yr. old son, who until this spring, has always chosen to be involved in football, wrestling and track. He's played football with his school since age 10.

He'll be going into his sophmore year in H.S. and he told me that he no longer wants to play football. He claims the coaches are biased on who they let play first string. He goes to a small rural H.S. and he's started in all of his games up to this point! I'm not a "booster mom" nor do I have any older sons that have played football for this school and those are the reasons my son says he won't be able to start in future games. He's a decent, solid player, great on the line, but definately not the "star" player due to him not putting 100% in most things he does. He definately has the abilities.

I feel he's worried he's going to be stuck starting only for J.V. and that he's getting picked on from other FB players in his grade that will be playing varsity this year. I told him the decision is his, I certainly wouldn't mind a break from the expense of FB equipment. He claims he is going to wrestle, but he ended up missing his sports physical that the school provides at low cost. Now I'll have to take him to our family doctor and pay twice as much for a physical. I'm not really sure what to make of this...

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So much depends on the individual kid and his circumstances (and family circumstances as well). You seem concerned about him quitting football and missing the wrestling physical. What is your concern? Are you concerned your son will just hang around and play video games instead? Does your son need strenuous physical activity to help even out his moods? Does he need the confidence boost or the team-building lessons that come from sports like football? Does the teasing from boys who might be on the varsity team bother you? Are you afraid he'll be left out of the teenage social life in your area if he doesn't play football? What is your concern if your son quits football and doesn't wrestle?

The rule for my son for most of his teen years was that I didn't care what he did with his leisure time, as long as it was healthy and constructive (by my standards). So sports, school clubs, hobbies like mountain biking or rock climbing, music, after school jobs (as long as the grades stayed up), any of that was fine. I was happy my son picked sports because he was happier and felt better when he had regular, strenuous physical exercise. He needed something organized and something with goals and regular practice times and requirements. My concern for my son if he had wanted to quit his sport would have been that he would have substituted mass quantities of time playing video games instead. So my rule was that if he wanted to quit his sport, that was fine as long as he had a plan for what he would substitute in its place.

I did have to relax that rule for awhile because our family circumstances changed for awhile (my husband was badly injured and my son was injured as well).

Some boys don't need a "plan", they just naturally keep themselves involved. I know boys who stay busy hunting, fishing, camping, mowing lawns, etc., and they don't need anything organized. If a kid like that wanted to quit a sport, it wouldn't bother me at all because there's probably a dozen other terrific things he'd be doing.

My opinion about the boys who will be starting varsity teasing your son if he just starts JV - as long as the teasing's not too way out of line, that's common with boys and I never found a way around that. My own personal philosophy is that it's great for everyone to just go out there and have fun, but the world of teenage boys doesn't seem to work that way.

I hope this helps. I wish those kids were born with an instruction manual, but it doesn't work that way. You know your son best, so what is your gut telling you?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 1:04AM
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My son does seem to function better when he's involved in sports. It's a good way for him to release aggression and tension and to feel like a part of the group. He's the type of kid who would rather hang around older people than kids his own age. He also has a tendancy to get "hung up" on video games, so I worry about that, too. Right now, I'm making him go to our local rec center and lift weights with me to kep him in some kind of physical activity.

I asked him last night if the football decision was because he was worried he'd only play JV and not varsity and he said "yes". We also have our house for sale and as soon as it sells, will be moving out-of-state, so I'm thinking that may be a reason for him to not want to get involved in football and then just leave right in the middle of a season.

My son spends a lot of time with his grandparents (my parents) during his summer break. Since he's been in football, he has to cut his visits short with them to be at practice, and so on... so I'm wondering, as well, that he may be thinking this could be the last summer he'll be able to really spend time with them, so he's putting sports aside to do that. He knows that once he has his driver's license that he will have to work, hence, a lot of his "free time" will go away.

I'm just somewhat concerned with his decision because this kid lives and breathes football! I have never pushed him into doing any sport, but he has a natural aptitude for FB and I'd be sad to see him walk away from it and regret it later. I guess that's his decision to live with, not mine...

Thanks for listening!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 9:20AM
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I do have a lot of thoughts about this, probably because both my kids walked away from their main activities that they poured years of their lives into (and thousands of our dollars). My kids both had very good reasons, and I understood, but still it was hard to watch.

So off the top of my head, and perhaps I'm wrong, here's what I think.

I'm just somewhat concerned with his decision because this kid lives and breathes football! I have never pushed him into doing any sport, but he has a natural aptitude for FB and I'd be sad to see him walk away from it and regret it later.

On the one hand, yes it sounds like he has an aptitude for football, and it's been his passion for years. On the other hand, He's a decent, solid player, great on the line, but definately not the "star" player due to him not putting 100% in most things he does. He definately has the abilities. Sounds like football's not the passion it used to be. I've seen many kids at the point where it sounds like your son is, not just in sports but in music, academics, etc. There comes a time for many kids where it's just plain gut check, hard work time. If they want to up their playing level to run with the big boys, they have to up their work ethic. I've seen many kids drop out of their main activity around this age, because they just don't want to put 100% into the activity. I think that's a valid choice - it's one I hated to see my own kids make, but it was a reasonable choice.

Your son may have lots of reasons for quitting rolling around in his head. The issue of moving may definitely be a factor - is he moving to a more competitive district where it would be harder to start? If his passion for football is starting to slip, perhaps he is looking ahead to when he has a job and less free time.

There's that old joke about boys this age - it's the age when the "fumes" get to them - you know, the per"fume" and the gas "fumes". Driving and dating, jobs and girlfriends start to take over their lives. My husband always encouraged Boy Scouts to get their Eagle before the "fumes" hit.

Unless you think the teasing is just way out of line, I wouldn't worry about that. In my experience that's just the way of boys, particularly boys in sports. They're very competitive, and yes they're going to rag on a boy who they know is not giving 100%. Your son has probably been seeing that kind of teasing for years, and may have even dished some out himself.

It sounds to me like the bottom line is that your son could lay it all on the line, give 100%, work hard and have a shot at the varsity. He's not doing that. Either he's afraid to try and fail, or he doesn't want to work that hard. Either way, it's something he'll have to decide for himself.

My husband is a big fan of pushing kids to give 100% and stick with something they're good at. I'm not. My opinion is this with my kids - as long as your grades are good and you're responsible, doing your chores and doing what you should do, then your free time is your own as long as you're doing something "good". I think these young years are golden times for kids to explore their passions and try new things - now before they have full time jobs and families to take care of.

The only thing is that if my son was in your son's position, I'd hate to see him quit football because of the moving aspect. If your son is moving to a new school district where he doesn't know anybody, it would be good for him to step into a sport. He'd have a niche and a good way to meet people and make new friends quickly. But then again, keep in mind my son went to a high school with between 3 and 4 thousand kids. Finding a niche in a big school like that is important - it helps keep kids from getting lost in the crowd. If your son is moving to a small school, that may not be as important.

I know you must hate to see your son quit the activity he's worked so hard on, particularly now when these next 2 years "should" be his glory time. The best you can do is to do what you're probably already doing - emphasize that exercise and fitness are lifetime goals, and when you quit one form of exercise you need to take up another. Help your son look for lifetime fitness hobbies - biking, swimming, running, weight-lifting, tennis, etc. Make sure he's substituting healthy activities for his football time. Make sure he's not quitting because of hazing, or some other bad reason.

The only other thing I'd keep in mind is this - my kids distanced themselves from activities and people that I was very surprised to see them avoid. Years later I found it was because those kids were getting drunk, or doing drugs, or acting cruel to other people, or the culture that group was fostering was arrogant and rude.

I wish you and your family the best, particularly your son. I moved out of state my junior year of high school and it was tough. It wound up being wonderful for me in the long run (I would never have met my husband if we hadn't moved), but it was sure hard to do. I hope your son makes wonderful new friends when he moves, and I hope you love it there, too.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 11:36AM
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So you want to put your kid through a football program he's made it clear he has no interest in it, just so you can get a half-price physical?

He should be following his own dreams at this age, not fulfilling yours against his wishes.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 5:46AM
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lee676 - please read my posts more clearly next time...

I stated that my son said HE wanted to wrestle next year. The school offers low-cost sports physicals to the students for ALL sports... not just football. I was bothered because he knew the physical was scheduled and he blew it off... that's all... Clear?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 8:55AM
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Unless something has happened to him at school, I have to think that he is reacting to the pending move. This is going to be a rough move for him, and he probably feels very anxious, and possibly angry, about it. He's leaving everything he knows, friends, school, sports teams and his place in his world for the unknown, and it's going to be very hard for him to find that place in his new school, community, etc. It's probably quite a blow to his self-confidence. Next to the death of a parent or sibling, a move is one of the most stressful things that can happen to a teenager.

My XH's family moved when he was just starting 11th grade, 45 years ago, and I don't think he's forgiven them yet. We agreed that we would not move while any of our kids were in high school, and we didn't, and I think they are the better for it.

Fifteen is a hard age, under the best of circumstances, and he knows that his whole world is going to be gone. Children are a lot less resilient than we think they are. Since they generally have no voice in family decisions they keep their thoughts to themselves, and suffer in silence.

He's withdrawing from his current activities and he may choose not to participate in activities in his new school, and you might start to see his school work suffer, too. At 15, you can't make him do anything he doesn't want to do. He needs a lot of love, attention and support from his family to get through this and come out whole at the other end.

Good luck

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 6:34PM
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I was dissapointed when DD quit equastarian (sp?) sports. she lost her interest. I still have piles of her riding equipment hoping she could go back to it, i doubt. it is nothing you can do, that's their life. you can encourage, but if they want to quit, let them. let them live their lives and make their own mistakes.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 4:44PM
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On the face of it there's nothing wrong with it, and he is approaching the age where he realises he has some choices and he should start living for himself (on the other hand 15 can also be pretty selfish and self-absorbed) but you might also want to look at his disposition over all, if he seems to be withdrawing from things, it could be a sign of depression.

With the change in schools he can see upheaval coming, you probably need to take that into account as well.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 2:02PM
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poppingrays - don't know if you're still following up on this but since I just saw it today I wanted to tell you. I also havea 15 yo son. I think it's the age where kids start to think about what THEY want to do, not just do what the other kids are doing or what their folks want them to do.

My DS will be in 9th grade. He changes his mind daily about what he wants to do! It's a hard age because the boys have so many options and are trying to decide what and who they want to be. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 10:37PM
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