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Articles: Youth athletics

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There was an article in this morning's NY Times about athletic scholarships and unrealistic expectations. While not about ballet, some of the issues are the same ones facing ballet families. I thought it was an interesting read.


Many students and their parents think of playing a sport not because of scholarship money, but because it is stimulating and might even give them a leg up in the increasingly competitive process of applying to college. But coaches and administrators, the gatekeepers of the recruiting system, said in interviews that parents and athletes who hoped for such money were much too optimistic and that they were unprepared to effectively navigate the system. The athletes, they added, were the ones who ultimately suffered.
Edited by Treefrog
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Treefrog, you have made rather large quotes from an article in the NYTimes. Perhaps you might consider paraphrasing rather then doing actual quotes for the sake of our website. :D


I will read the article this evening when I have more time, but right now, the quotes are taking up quite a bit of bandwidth (I think that is what they call it) and please do remember we do not have the rights to reprint any newspaper articles. :innocent:

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I took out two of the quotes, which had to do with a parent's reaction ('you really can't be in it for the money') and a student's reaction ('Looking back, I wish I'd worked on my sport a little less hard and taken more time for myself.')

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Concur. A lead paragraph or topic sentence is sufficient, especially with the link already in the post. Readers can read and digest as they see fit.

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I really don't believe I have met any serious ballet students who are in it for the money, or for college. Nor do I know any who have regretted what they gained from their years of dedication to the study of ballet.


Sorry, but I don't see how this article relates to ballet at all.

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It never would have occurred to me to have my kids in dance to increase a chance of scholarship money....


However my in-laws who's kid is into hockey at an elite level might be somewhat encouraged by the article. That said, I am pretty certain that he would play hockey (or some other sport, he seems talented in everything) regardless of scholarship possibilities.



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A note on bandwidth: this page so far, when viewed with Invision Power Board, takes up about 60,000 bytes (character) of bandwidth. The vast majority of that bandwidth is in the display and formatting of the board, and only at most 2,000 bytes are the actual content of this page. Obviously, this is pretty wasteful --- an extra 60,000 bytes every time someone clicks the mouse.


Other BBS systems are more efficient. phpBB seems to require "only" 25,000 bytes per click overhead. That still seems inefficient, but a switch to phpBB could cut down overall bandwidth requirements for the board by a factor of 2-3.


Either way, a few extra bytes on quotes will not substantially affect the board's bandwidth.


As for copyright issues, quotes on BalletTalk fall under the US Copyright Fair Use guidelines: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html. It is actually legal to copy large portions of copyrighted works, and sometimes the entire work, under fair use. Given the non-commercial nature of this board, the fact that articles are quoted for the purposes of criticism and discussion, and the fact that entire articles are not copied in full, any quoting that's happened on BalletTalk probably falls well within fair use guidelines. And by providing a link to the original article, NYTimes also gets its chance at compensation.


Given these realities, BalletTalk may still wish to further limit quotes for reasons other than bandwidth and copyright.

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Treefrog, great minds think alike! :innocent::wink: I was just coming on to post a link to that article myself. The issues are so similar to what we see on our ballet message boards regularly: the very large numbers of people competing for such a small chance. And, in the case of the article whose link you posted, such a large number of people competing for college sports scholarships that barely exist, and if they do, exist as very small sums, nowhere near enough to offset the cost of the training throughout childhood.


Many ballet parents here have made the comparison to the sports training scene; it's nice to be able to read the hard numbers behind it all. The ironic statement by one parent that the college scholarship money just might pay for some of the past athletic (swimming? can't remember now) training (as opposed to college itself) was a big "ouch!" moment for me. :D


Yet again, we are reminded that in any field of interest, let passion (and budget) in the moment be the guidepost, not future scholarship or career.

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David, we are not worried about bandwidth with posts. The real concern was the amount of the article quoted. Our understanding was that there was a relatively strict limit on that. Perhaps we were wrong, but we did not know that.

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“And if I had it to do over, I would have skipped a practice every now and then to go to a concert or a movie with my friends. I missed out on a lot of things for soccer. I wish I could have some of that time back.”


This really got me.


In many ways, I'm one that "didn't make it" in ballet yet I don't regret a second of my training and the things I "missed out on" for ballet. I'm still dancing--I'm a college dance major at a school with a half decent track record for placing students into jobs in the dance world but it's not one of the "big name" schools and, if we're going to be honest, I don't have the ideal body and I've had hip surgery twice. Even if I do land a job in a professional company, it's not going to pay the bills. But I wouldn't have traded all those hours spent in the studio for anything. It sounds like this kid didn't have his priorities straight.


My younger brother is the athlete of the family--he's a big soccer and track kid. He plays for an elite club team for soccer and has a few league records in track but he has no plans of continuing this after high school. He does it for the same reasons I danced 40 hours a week through high school--because he just completely loves it. He doesn't miss practice because practice is fun for him; he'd rather be at practice than at the movies or a concert.

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David, good input on several board support issues. We'll take it under advisement, and discuss among the Administrators and Moderators of both Ballet Talk and Ballet Talk for Dancers.

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Victoria, I don't see the article applying so much to the ballet students themselves as to us parents of the ballet students! :D It's we parents who are more likely to be looking at the receipt of scholarships (be they college or SI) as justifications for continuing down the tunnel-visioned existence. The ballet students themselves will continue down that road for the sheer joy of their dance; the parents will look at the receipt or the potential for a college (or other program) scholarship as a 'perk' that makes the hard work, extended hours, and financial outlay justifiable.


We have experienced this learning curve for athletics. Non-dd is (or was pre-chronic injury) at an elite level in her sport. The sport is small enough that scholarships do exist and those at her training/performance level do receive them. However, we have come to realize that those 'full-ride' scholarships are few and far between and the expectations from the college on the athlete's time and performance to retain those scholarships are not for the faint of heart. Ivy league colleges, for example, don't offer athletic scholarships any more than they do merit scholarships.


Non-dd looks at her accomplishments in her sport more as a means of distinguishing herself from the myriad of similarly academically credentialled applicants. She is more aware of the time commitments of the college athletes and hopes to use her sport more as a way to open doors to a college of her choice rather than the means to pay for her college. (In fact, she's not sure she'd want to accept a scholarship because of the commitment level required.) But coming to the the realization that this is a more realistic way to view a sport for college did involve a learning process. Originally, as she progressed to that level of accomplishment, we did (naively & excitedly) think that her sport could 'pay' for her college! :innocent:


However, dancers going to college programs as dance majors have a little more at stake. After all, that is what their college career is actually about where as the college athlete's college career is not (ostensibly) actually about his/her sport. Nevertheless, there is still only so many full-scholarships given to a school's dance department and they, like the athletic coaches, do divide and parcel them out so as to give as many students some money as possible. That is one of the reasons it is best to apply and audition as early in the college admission process as possible. Once the money has been divided and offered, it is gone and there is no more!

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I have distant relatives who put their 7 year old daughter into golf lessons because they decided that the relatively small number of female golfers might aid in her eventually getting a golf scholarship to college. She took golf, but while good at it, was a good kind of ordinary player :D , and didn't have the passion for it. After several years, she opted out.


I know that often here on these boards, parents have written, myself included :innocent:, about the possibility for a scholarship to college on the strength of all the serious commitment to ballet over a long period of time. My daughter didn't take ballet all those years so she could get a college scholarship :P , but when it came time to apply for colleges and audition, we, like so many of the other posters here on BTD, hoped that the years of ballet would be factored in. While that is certainly an additional factor in the consideration for a college scholarship, academic ability and commitment comes first. I liked it that this article states that loudly and clearly, that it's the ability to do academics at a high level that matters most. For those not searching for a ballet major, per se, that's something important to remember :thumbsup: , and it sure doesn't hurt when applying to colleges for a ballet major.


I think the thrust of the article is not to put all one's eggs (good theme for this time of year :wink: ) in one basket. It's a good reminder.

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The quote I noticed was, "the hardest part is that nobody educates the parents on what's really going on or what's going to happen." And I immediately thought, "thank goodness we have Ballettalk!" Sounds like they need a SchoolAthleticsTalk.com! :)

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Thank you so much for posting this article, I just sent it to my dad. Even though it doesn't have much to do with ballet per se, I'm sure many ballet parents can relate to the way these parents feel when their child isn't awarded the full ride athletic scholarship to their dream school. Ballet parents dish out thousands of dollars a year for training, shoes, SIs, auditions, the list just goes on and on, for their kids to be noticed at an audition. I don't believe many parents, especially when their children are younger, are aware of the likelihood that their child will never make it into a professional company, let alone one that will pay the bills. Both fields are extremely competitive and I think it is up to both the parent of the dancer and dancer to really research their options and be realistic. I know of many ballet parents that expect their kids to be taken into a company by the time they graduate high school because of the time and money commitment they've invested only to find thats not the case. Many times the parents are more devastated than their kids! Between ballet and coming from a family of competitive athletes, this is all too familiar to me.

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