Basketball on the Edge – Help, My Child’s Grades Are Dropping!


Your son brings home his report card in October right before basketball practice is scheduled to begin.  He’s eligible to play by school standards, but his grades are not at the level you expect.  Your son has always been a good student so you’re trying to figure out what’s happening at school and why his grades have slipped.  You’re thinking of not allowing him to play basketball this season as a result of his poor report card.  What factors should you take into consideration when making the decision on whether you will allow your son play or not?

Here are some points for you to consider in this situation.

  • Have a conversation with your child.  Try to determine the reason why their grades have slipped.  Hopefully, you may already have a good idea of what is causing the difficulty.  Understanding the problem is the first step in making the right decision for your child.  You may find that the reason is totally unrelated to sports and needs to be addressed in a different way.
  • Has the season already started?  If it has, then your child has made a commitment to their teammates and coaches.  You and your child have already agreed the commitment is important so by breaking that commitment you are sending a mixed-message that breaking a commitment is ok.  If the season hasn’t started, this is a great time to have a discussion with you child about whether they will be able to handle the demands of school and their sport.
  • There have been many studies that have shown that student-athletes typically perform better in the classroom during their season than they do in the off-season.  This may be because they have to better manage their time during the season in order to get things done.   Sometimes having too much free time can result in classwork being put off until later.
  • Sports are often a motivator for kids to do well in school.  Without their sport it is possible a child may disengage from school even further leading to continued difficulties in the classroom.  Removing something your child enjoys (basketball) will not motivate them to better in another area (school) of their life.
  • Sports can help your child learn life lessons that will reinforce some of the characteristics of both a successful student and a successful athlete.  Confidence, commitment, discipline, teamwork, leadership, time management, preparation, hard work, respect and perseverance.
  • Sports may provide a physical outlet for a child that has to sit still all day in school.  Exercise has been shown to stimulate brain activity making it easier to concentrate and learn.
  • In sports and in the classroom your child will be asked to give their best effort.  School and sports can work together to reinforce that message.
  • By playing on the team your child is accountable not only to you and his teachers, but also his coaches and teammates.
  • Missing out on the basketball season may leave your child feeling isolated.  This can lead to them withdrawing socially and feeling left out causing further stress.  As adults we frequently underestimate this feeling of belonging that is so important to kids.
  • Think about how your child will spend the time they would have spent playing their sport.  Is lack of time to complete schoolwork an issue?  If so, then making participation dependent on improving grades is reasonable.  On the other hand if they are not going to use that time for constructive purposes then missing out on their sport may not be the best choice.
  • If you do allow your child to play, make sure they have structure at home to support them in getting work done and having time to study.  Be there to assist when necessary, set up a work area for them, get homework done before the tv, phone, or computer goes on.

Communication with your child is the key to making the best decision and achieving the results that you want.  There is no one size fits all solution to this issue, but by taking into account the ideas presented above I believe you’ll be more likely to help your child achieve success both in the classroom and on the court.

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