I have always dreamed of being a father. You know the kind of dad that takes pictures of every second of their kids’ childhood?
That was going to be me.
The dad who invites family to the sporting events in an attempt to have the most raucous, screaming, embarrassingly loud section to root for their child.
Yep, that was going to be me too.
The kind of dad who invites the family over to screams extra loud when their kid brings home a good report card?
You know a dad like that right? Me either.
I have been a coach for almost a decade and have had the opportunity to intimately converse with hundreds of parents about their children. It surprises me that most times parents speak of their children’s scholarship potential it is completely and solely based on their child’s athletic prowess.
It is a very rare– a very rare instance when a kid’s academic skills are mentioned. Never mind the fact that a teenager’s chances of getting an academic scholarship is exponentially better than attaining an athletic scholarship.
This makes me wonder: why are the parents of school-aged children not putting more emphasis and focus on academic successes ?
Mya, my girlfriend’s six-year-old daughter, is now at that soccer, dance, softball team age and she’s raring to go. She even wants to play tackle football, a development that I am obviously proud of and am encouraging.
She is trying to become a multi-faceted, well-rounded, eclectic, every-woman, and I am more than happy to facilitate her growth towards those endeavors.
What I am more proud of though, is the same tenacity she shows trying to perfect her golf swing she shows at the dinner table every night trying to master her homework.
Yes, she is six and she gets pissed whenever she falls short of the high standards and expectations she has set for herself.
She not only wants to outperform the boys on the field, but in the classroom. I am more than willing to raise, demand, and push my baby to be a nerd.
It is no secret that simply having a bachelor’s degree is not going to be enough to ensure success and a comfortable life anymore. It is even less likely for Mya, because she is black(she is actually bi-racial; her mother is white and fantastic role model and mother) and more so because she is female. If you believe the statistics the odds are stacked against her.
Suffice it to say, because of the statistics, I am more interested in seeing her becoming the next Condoleeza Rice over the next Candace Parker. Candace might get a chance to play for the team, but Condoleeza is more likely to own the team.
Rick Santorum and the GOP will have you think that Mr. Obama is a ‘snob’ for exhorting that everyone go to college. We all know that there are people who are not cut out to sit in classrooms. To dismiss the idea of higher education as snobbish casts an unnecessary dark cloud of the hundreds of hands-on vocational schools and junior colleges that are set up to help the masses no matter the learning speed or handicap.
I know there will come a time when Mya is conscious of the social stigmas that go along with being a nerd. When that day comes I will remind her that while she is worried about trying to land a date or secure her rep the world is still spinning, the difference between the haves and the have-nots is still increasing, and the job market is decreasing at the same pace as the requirements for landing a career is increasing.
It all starts with me and her mom though. I have to be mindful to loudly celebrate those honor roll report cards, those 4th place certificates for science fairs, and every merit badge she earns in Girl Scouts. Afterall, if loud exultation is allowed for 300 yard drives, then me doing the Arsenio Hall dog pound whoop at an awards assembly should be embraced.
So, I’m ordering my Mya jersey, and my pink warface paint today, because there is a six-year-old who deserves confetti and Gatorade dumped on her for having a ‘green day’. Maybe just the confetti… the Gatorade will be reserved for her first touchdown come this Fall.