Sorry Kids, No Pro Athletes Allowed



If there’s one thing you need to know about Knoxville and sports, it’s that we’re Peyton fans around here. Last week’s Super Bowl victory wasn’t just a win for Denver; it was a win for our scruffy little city too. Peyton Manning is THE good ol’ boy of the Tennessee Volunteers, and while New Orleans may claim to be his hometown, we all know Rocky Top will always be home sweet home to him.

In an interview with Bill Cower, Peyton emotionally revealed that regardless of his plans for next season, he always wants to be remembered for his character. The Mannings know what it takes to get to the top, and hard work is at the top of that list, maybe even edging over God-given talent. Having the kind of skill, leadership, influence, and legacy that Peyton Manning possesses comes only from a lifetime of unwavering dedication to his craft.

But as a mom, that’s just not something I’m willing to let my kids do.

Don’t get me wrong; I think the kind of passion and commitment Peyton Manning and really all professional athletes have is amazing and honorable. I love the ones like Peyton, Tim Tebow, Reggie White, and Troy Polamalu, all of whom are incredible athletes and incredible human beings, providing fantastic role models for my children. I love the values taught by sports and all the potential for great relationships being part of a team. However, I also know that the type of commitment needed to make it to the pros starts early, doesn’t give up, and requires parental support to achieve the dream. And I know those are things I simply can’t or won’t do.

Part of my parenting philosophy is just letting kids be kids. They will have more than enough pressure in their little lives as they grow. Academic standards are ever-increasing, leading kindergarten and early grades to be more and more rigorous while less and less play-based. There are family and social relationships to navigate, and my little ones get the extra “special” weight of being pastor’s kids. I want my children to enjoy their childhoods and one day look back on them as the most peaceful, carefree time of their lives. Sports are certainly a part of that equation! We have already entered the worlds of dance, AYSO soccer, and Upwards basketball, and I expect plenty more to come as my kids’ interests develop over the years. I’m all about sports that bring my family joy and build their character… just not at the expense of their childhoods.

I get that if all moms thought like me, we wouldn’t have any Peyton Mannings or Michael Jordans or Tara Lipinskis or really any level of professional sports at all. This is exactly why I’m not telling other moms they need to think like me. If your child is a little prodigy and you want to put in the time and effort to climb that ladder, then by all means, be their biggest support! I’ll totally cheer for your kid when he’s the youngest Olympian in history or hits the most [drug-free] home runs of all time or whatever other super awesome feat he or she achieves. It’s simply not for me and my family. When I consider all the athletes out there vying for a very small number of positions, plus the probability of injury – even career-ending injury – compared to the (un)likelihood they will actually go pro, the risk vs. reward simply isn’t worth it for me. A friend once posed the question, “What if your kid is the next [insert whatever legendary athlete you wish], but you never got them into sports to develop their talent?” Well, I can tell you with certainty that my child is not the next legendary athlete, because if he or she were, then God would have given him or her to another mom who was willing to push them to achieve it.

More than anything, I want to teach my children how to have balance in their lives. While they are young, it is easy for me to manage all their schedules and activities to make sure they don’t get over-worked, over-stressed, or overwhelmed. However, my oldest turns 8 today (happy birthday, Princess!), and I am already seeing how quickly I will lose that control. With homework, church, community sports, birthday parties, family events, and (gasp!) puberty lurking just around the corner, soon the strain and pull for her time will start to fall on her rather than me. While they are still so young, I’ll let them try out a few different activities to whet their interests, and when they are old enough to choose, they can dive head first into whatever excites their passion. Whether that’s football or baseball or robotics or debate or marching band, I’ll have their backs 100%. But for now… I’ll just let them be little.

Do you love or hate sports for your kids? How do you feel about pushing your kids to perform athletically? Are you a Tiger Mom or more laid back? Do the benefits of competitive sports outweigh the risks for you? Share your thoughts in the comments!


  1. The only concern I would have with not pushing at least a little for a more intensive sports life is the loss of future scholarship opportunities later. As the mom of a student athlete, we never looked to be professional athletes but my daughter was good enough that her sport paid for 3 of her 4 years in college and gave her an instant college group of friends so her transition from home to college was smoother. She was a good student in A/P classes, good grades, served 4 years in student government, played in the orchestra for 4 years and the ONLY offer she got was for sports.

  2. Karmen, you’re totally right. College scholarships are a huge benefit of pursuing competitive athletics. They do take a LOT of work, though, as I know you are aware. If any of my kids are that interested in a particular sport and are willing to put in the effort, I’m totally behind them! I just don’t want to push them to do something they aren’t super passionate about, because I certainly won’t be either. 😉


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