Let me start out by making this clear that I am writing about the practice of parents holding their children back in middle school, not any particular case or person. With that said I have made my opinion pretty well known on our The Wrestling Insider closed group. For those of you who are not a member of this group I will restate my position. I am unequivocally against the practice of parents or legal guardians holding their athlete back in middle school for the sole purpose of gaining an extra year of experience and growth. I do make an exception to this that is, if your athlete has a learning or social deficit that can be verified by a trained professional (and someone outside the family) and it is recommended that they repeat to maintain the grade level work they are in, then I can see this. That’s it. If your athlete doesn’t fit that criteria than they should progress with the rest of their peers.
I have heard stories (excuses really) that due to their child being small or not quite as mature as some of their peers or because of the pressure of an expensive college education then the parents are giving their athlete a “fighting chance”. I look at it as you are teaching your child that when life’s pressures build go ahead and either cheat or manipulate the system to your benefit. So why then is it ok for your child and not their opponents to do this? Where will this stop?When will it be ok to do and who will decide who will be held back? If one year is good than will two be better?
The playing field should be level for all competition. Just as the saying goes that wrestling isn’t for everyone doesn’t just hold true for mental toughness and talent but maybe it should hold true for those of us that don’t carry the correct DNA. When I was young I realized pretty early on that my ancestry probably didn’t lend me to be a football line man or basketball center. I recommend that if your Dad is 5’8″ and Mom is 4’10” (Mom would argue 4’11” so call it 4’10 1/2″-me and my wife) then you should probably look at some sports that better lend themselves to those of us in society that are smaller in stature. But no less fierce a competitor. Our oldest daughter is in the 5th grade and 55lbs. She has gained about 5 pounds in the last 5 years and at this rate will likely be giving up way too much weight to continue wrestling in high school and/or college. She loves soccer, gymnastics and tumbling so she has diverted her focus to these sports. She still wrestles in practice from time to time but we realize being 70-80 pounds in her freshman year of high school just wouldn’t make her competitive and possibly even cause her injury. Those of us that have wrestled or wrestle now don’t like to give up 2 pounds. Now imagine giving up 25. Holding her back in middle school isn’t even a consideration for her mother and me.
I believe in letting parents raise their children without too much intervention. Lets face it, between school districts and Michelle Obama I think we have enough people forcing their way into our lives. But when it comes to competition and maintaining a fair and level playing mat, why should some have an edge over others? College is expensive for everyone. No high school student or their parents are immune to these expenses. I just believe by facing life’s challenges and pressures head on rather than cheating, you will be doing your children a better service and preparing them better for the rough and tumble world. Maybe this is a great argument to make sure your child is a multi sport athlete. And the argument that results are proof of the validity of a parents choice doesn’t work for me. There are also countless of examples of kids that are held back by their parents (and against their will) that despise their parents over this or some have even stopped the sport they were in, now they are in a younger class with an entirely new set of resentments.
If you are a coach of a youth program, do you have any policies in place that address this issue?
Any thoughts on this–let us hear them.
Manager True Wrestling Insider social networks.