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BOTD 9/23/16 "Keeping A Balance" A Jack Production

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David M. Katz

A Jack Production

Your son, Otto, is a great athlete, but not so great an academic.  Which isn't to say he's stupid, he's just not especially motivated.  When he applies himself, he can score at the top.  He'd prefer to do the bare minimum to get by, so he can spend more time working out.  That's totally unacceptable to you.  So, this summer, before you sent him to a pre-football camp, the two of you sat down and had a long talk.  You explained to him that, no matter how good he was, there were a very limited number of places for professional football players, and even if he could make it that far, there's no guarantee some accident wouldn't happen that could prevent him from playing.  You carefully explain that you're not against him playing, and not against him doing what he needs to be the best that he can be - you support him in it - but you want him to prepare for other choices, which means doing his homework and keeping up his grades.  

Otto at a work out
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Now, as you approach the end of the first six weeks of school and the first progress report, you go online to see how Otto is doing with his grades.  You see that he has two assignments that were never turned in.  That really bothers you because, not only did Otto promise to prioritize homework over his home workouts, but he's also kept a list of homework, and it said that everything has been turned in.

When Otto gets home, you check the list again, and it does show that everything was turned in on time.  You ask, and Otto tries to be surprised and say he turned everything in, but you're pretty good at reading him, and you're not sure he's being honest, so you tell him you're going to contact his teachers, but also ask if they returned the assignments to him.

At that point, he confesses that he might have missed turning something in, but it's not a big deal, and you 'need to understand I have to keep up with my workouts.'

Do you understand, or does he need to understand?

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


"I understand perfectly well, son. In fact, I'm going to help. I'm going to give your butt a good workout with the belt."


First attempt lost in the ethernet--so I'll try again.

Given previous issues, I can't imagine that I'd have waited SIX WEEKS before checking Otto's progress, but the scenario says I did.

Otto and I are first going to talk. I'm going to tell him that it IS a big deal, and that his primary "job" is schoolwork, not athletics--they are "horizontal enrichment". I'm also going to point out that falsifying records, in a different setting (and maybe in this one) would be a criminal offense, and we all know what that buys.

Otto is getting spanked (but not switched). The greater consequence, however, is that he has lost my trust. I'm going to be checking his progress daily, possibly obtrusively, because Otto has demonstrated that I can't rely on the school's website. If he doesn't perform to my standards (effort, not necessarily achievement if he's trying his best), he will lose his football PRIVILEGES. Playing IS, IMO, a privilege--and one that is dependent on his doing his primary job.


Editor Extraordinaire
My experience has made me cynical enough to know that being a jock serves as entree into worlds other than professional sports. Small towns remember their sports heroes, who can often be found in cushy jobs at banks or as partners in car dealerships. College jocks have a much wider pool of influential and powerful people to ease them along. Having said that, I do think that since Otto apparently has the ability to do well academically, he needs to perform better than bare minimum. However, I'm prepared to accept less than his very best. If sport is his real love, he can find careers connected to it even if he is never a professional star athlete; and as I said above, "Glory Days" can ease the way into plenty of career paths more effectively than, oh, actual merit.

Otto had better keep in mind that to play high school sports requires passing grades, so he has not only me to satisfy but the school also. Missing assignments will get him benched pretty fast. That may well be the lesson he needs. If it isn't, I know what will hurt more than a whuppin'. I'll lock up his workout equipment and he'll have to earn it back by demonstrating academic progress.



I found Kat's view enlightening as I'm sure we don't have small town - or even large town - sports heroes in the same way as over there. At least not until the individual achieves national recognition.

Depriving him of his workout equipment would be effective I'm sure in getting him back on track fairly quickly. But there is the fact that he has deliberately deceived me and for that I reckon a sore butt is justified.
(After which he can do 50 sit ups! Evil or Very Mad )


AFinch wrote:Given previous issues, I can't imagine that I'd have waited SIX WEEKS before checking Otto's progress, but the scenario says I did.

I can be caught this way myself, because I check the boys work on a regular basis (in Otto's case, probably daily), and I don't start looking until the end of the period. Most teacher's have online grade books now that parents can access (with a pw) that actually have an approximate GPA (grade point average) for the class. Therefore, I check because it's easier and more accurate than eyeballing all the homework. It works just fine, as long as the kid in question is being honest. In this case, the problem is that Otto decided to deliberately mislead me, as opposed to just having trouble.

I am going to remind Otto of the agreement that he and I made before I paid for his summer camp. While our agreement is more stringent than pass and play, he still has to have my approval to play.

I don't understand it myself, but having lived with Noah, I understand how fulfilling this can be to some people, and even Bryce seems to have become almost addicted to his work out. I'll let Otto know that, if he wants to make adjustments to his schedule, we can do that, but he has to keep his word to me. Since he didn't do that, he's going to be getting a very thorough paddling - probably in two doses, and maybe a day of seclusion, at least long enough to catch up those assignments and anything else he might have missed. I'll let him know that, from now on, I'll be keeping a much closer eye on him, but I'll try to do it in a way where he can get as much workout as he wants as well.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."


Otto is getting paddled, as much for the deception as anything. Whatever happens to him in life , school, sports, work, Your lies will find you out.

As Ivor says , in the UK the culture is different. I do know that professional football (soccer) clubs many youngsters being prepared for pro careers as they hope, are also now being told to put the work in at school by those clubs or they wont be selected for the academy sides. Some are even sponsored by those clubs in schools with top sp sporting facilities and the clubs are(almost) as interested in the results as the parents. It didn't use to be the case

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