CHRIS MOORE — Is a gold medal at 15 worth it?

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, February 9, 2022

This week, Russian Figure Skater Kamila Valieva landed a quadruple jump, which no woman had ever done before in Olympic competition — and she did it twice.

The feat helped her earn her team a gold medal.

After her first performance the camera cut to her sitting with her family as she awaited the judges to tally their scores. The shot is a fairly routine one. You see jittery family members huddled around the athlete as she looked up with anticipation. But something stood out.

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As she waited to learn her score, Valieva was holding a stuffed animal. Which could be out of place until you realize she is only 15 years old.

The skater, who had landed a jump that no other woman had ever landed, could not drive herself to the rink to practice the jump.

After being wildly impressed, I became fairly sad. My thoughts jumped to what a child would have to give up to become that good at something. History is littered with child prodigies that flame out because they take on the burdens of being an adult and sacrifice being a child.

The children I cover in high schools can experience something similar on a much smaller level.

As a parent, I want my kids to be good at sports. I want them to try their best and take away all of the lessons that being a part of a team can provide. I want them to have to work hard to overcome adversity.

However, I want them to be a child. I want them to have time to do nothing and hang out with friends. Honestly, it is very unlikely that a child will grow up to play sports professionally. It is a little more likely but still a long shot that a child will earn an athletic scholarship. There is a much higher chance of earning an academic scholarship and it will set them up better for life after sports.

So, before we start to yell at the 8-year-old kid for not keeping their eye on the ball, or yelling at a coach for not putting our child in to get their one catch for 3 yards, we should remember that it is unlikely that our children will be landing quadruple jumps at 15 years old, and I am not sure I want that for my kids.

Chris Moore is the sports editor for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at chris.moore@panews.com.