The Radical Tip that Might Keep Your Daughter in Sports (and Place Her in the C-Suite…)

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Approximately 70% of children in the U.S. quit sports by the time they are 13 according to the Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day, but few come close.

So, it is hardly surprising then that the rate of childhood obesity continue to rise, coming in at 17.3 percent of American children ages 2-19 being classified as obese according to an April 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.

In fact, according to the organization Designed to Move, because of the sedentariness of young people, today’s ten-year-olds are the first generation in a hundred years expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

What is ironic is this: we know that sports is great for kids, especially girls, who benefit from better performance in school, an improved social life, more involvement in their community as well as better emotional and psychological health.

And, that pay off continues quite literally in adulthood where research shows that among senior business women in the C-suite today, 94% played sports and over half played at a university level, suggesting a strong correlation between their success in sports and their success in business.

So what can a parent do to help their daughter stay in sports?

Here is my radical advice: stop having expectations.

Be supportive, show up to watch games, meets, matches or whatever, but let go of any judgment and stop anticipating any future.

As a successful four-sport high school athlete who went on to play basketball in college recently wrote about her parents’ role in her athletic pursuits, “They truly cared… But there was never an expectation. They just loved watching me play.”

These parents didn’t value their daughter’s experience for a potential scholarship or for their own psychological needs. They didn’t sit and watch her wondering how long “they” should continue playing, if “they” could hang in there through her ups and downs or if “they” were wasting “their” time in having their child in a sport. Instead, “their interest was pure joy, not judgment or unfair criticism. They were all in because I was all in.”

All in because she was all in.

That. Is. Perfect.

That is what a supportive parent does—goes all in because their child is all in. Not for themselves. Not for an investment. Not for a possible payoff in the form of fame, trophies or scholarships. But instead for their child’s development.

I love to watch you play.

Best 6 words in sports parenting.