Adapted from an online discussion.
Hi there, Carolyn: So how do you help a kid navigate getting cut, as a senior, from a club sports team he’s been on for 10 years? He’s shy, and this was basically his only social venue as well.
Obviously, this is a first-world problem, but we’re trying to help him deal with the unpleasant feelings appropriately and figure out ways to find a new activity — balancing his newness with the fact that he’ll be one of the older kids. Thanks.
Cut: I was just talking with friends about how high school is when most sports careers end, like it or not — usually a hard “not” — and how that can rattle kids who’ve invested years of hard work in these dreams.
One friend had far and away the best response to set the tone and nudge a kid forward: “I’m so proud of you.”
Followed by how you watched him work so hard for himself and the team, and you hope he feels good about doing everything he could to get there. Even though he fell short, giving it all he had means there’s nothing to regret.
He might not be ready to hear this yet — this is more a listening time than a talking one for parents — but he wasn’t cut from what his sport taught him about himself, about hard work, about losing as an inevitable part of life and about working around his shyness to be part of a team.
As for “ways to find a new activity” — how long has he had to process getting cut? You say he’s shy, but I don’t want to connect that automatically with other emotional fallout. See how he fares before you jump in to help.
By the way, almost all sports stories end with getting cut, riding the bench, finishing the season out of the playoffs or getting eliminated in them, etc. Big pyramid, small tip. Part of the deal.
●A lot of colleges have intramural sports. And my city has sports leagues for adults who liked the sport but weren’t good enough for the next level, or just want to have fun.
●This may be a “love it or hate it” suggestion, but when I was cut, I became one of the team managers. I still got to hang out with my friends and feel like I contributed to the team.
●A senior is old enough to get into coaching or refereeing younger kids. It’s fun and very rewarding when any kid gets better because of something I said.
●Maybe some down time for the next few months before graduation would be welcome.
●Cut from the team = every theater student ever. Budding actors fail to get cast all the time, it’s part of the craft. The ones who are really committed take a few days to cry, then join the pit orchestra, or the costume team, or the tech crew — however they are qualified to participate.
●Is having something you devoted a decade of your life to come to an end, and feeling adrift because of it, solely relegated to those of us in the developed world?
(“First-world problem” is inapt here, yes. And due for retirement generally. Still, it can’t hurt to keep the phrase, “No whining on the yacht,” within reach. CH)