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Responsible Sports: Handling Grades and Sports

Last month, a Responsible Sports Parent wrote to our panel of experts to ask:

“As a father and coach for my son’s 11-12 year old wrestling team it pains me to place him on academic probation for his grades dropping below the agreed upon level for him to participate in sports.

Am I wrong for holding him to this agreement?”

- Samuel, a concerned Dad

We asked two of our experts to weigh in. Andrew Bisek – USA Wrestling Greco Team Member, had this to say:

No, I don't think you are wrong for holding him to this agreement. I think the son shows a strong desire to wrestle and if he puts this desire and determination into other aspects of his life, such as his academics, he will be a more successful individual in the long run.

And Tina Syer, Chief Impact Officer from Positive Coaching Alliance answered:

Dear Samuel,
As tough as this is, you are not wrong for holding him to this agreement. In fact, I think you’re quite right to hold him to this agreement. This is the time when your son is learning whether or not “rules” matter. If you don’t hold him to this, he could learn the wrong life lesson – that he can break agreements and feel no consequences. That would actually be you doing him a disservice. Being a Responsible Sports Parent is not always easy!

With this said, you can also do everything in your power to help him raise his grades. I’ve heard of some coaches that ask players in this position to attend a “study hall” during what would normally be their practice time. This may work especially well if there are other players on your team in addition to your son that are in this position. You might also talk with your son about how his performance in the classroom is affecting the team. At 11-years-old most kids are not thinking about how their grades affect anyone other than themselves. Finally, this situation may be a catalyst for your son, where he is motivated to go to his teacher to ask what he needs to do to raise his grades (as quickly as possible).

Are you a coach or parent who has a youth wrestling question you’d like to pose to our panel of experts? Visit us on Facebook and ask your question today! We regularly post answers on and each month we’ll feature one question here at USA Wrestling.

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