Pyramid Expectations in Sports Scholarships

Image describing the levels of sports performance
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Many of our kids (and their parents) harbour expectations to attain the peak of their aspirations however; are these personal expectations ones that many will actually realise?

Naturally, any good parent wants the best for their offspring but often, wanting the best for them also tends to be a retrospective attempt to wipe out the reflection of our own failings… We want them to get all the things we never had, we want them to realise their (or is it our) dreams. But realistically, many of us never actually turn our dreams into reality, or lay our hands on the possessions we always dreamt of owning.

Yes we all need aspirations and some drive however, sometimes we tend towards mistaking ‘needs’ for ‘aspirations’. Do we really need that which we want? What we should all remember is; it’s not really such a big problem when those wants actually fail to materialise. Just so long as you have the ability to temper your high expectations with a modicum of reality. It won’t always be possible for everyone to get everything they want and, personal wealth and/or physical possessions will never replace health, family and friends. Trust me, after coming as close to meeting the ultimate arbitor as ever I want to, prior to that actual day arriving, most things usually pale into insignificance when they go wrong, if you have your health and family!

Todays trigger for my thoughts was the story below; a subject close to heart and one which I have recent experience of. A relative of mine, who had been football mad from a very early age, won a soccer scholarship for university study in the USA. At the time, it really did seem to be the answer to all his dreams and aspirations.

He was (and is) a better than average footballer, one who had been told from a very early age by his coaches that he really did have that ‘star’ quality. He grew up wanting to be nothing other than a professional footballer and, because of the almost constant praise, actually believed it would happen. Thankfully, guided by his family elders however, he actually had the foresight to realise that if he didn’t make it as a professional footballer, he would still have to try to gain some formal qualifications; if only to help him earn a reasonable living later in life.

BBC News: College sports in the US are hugely prestigious with teams boasting top class facilities and stadiums. So it is little wonder that with university tuition fees on the rise, the idea of a sporting scholarship in the US is more attractive than ever to British youngsters… (Read more)

Many may ask is the prospect of fame and fortune via a sports scholarship really a ‘promise’ too far?

The answer I would give is yes, or at the very least, perhaps… With some scholarship agencies and consultants, who are often in the game simply to make money for their business, your child is not always as important to them as he/she is to you. In addition to that and to reap the full benefit, many prospective students from the UK need to change their perception of education and how it is delivered in general at home. They must develop a greater level of the mentality and ethics held by their USA student counterparts. he BBC article continued to highlight many of the realities which inlude;

…The scholarships are given out by the coaches of each individual university, so there is no central record of how many are awarded to British students. But Russell Horsley of the English Colleges Football Association says he is getting enough complaints about unrealistic promises of scholarships and poor service from across the industry to call for better regulation of the UK companies that offer to help.

But the scholarship is not just about the sport, it’s about the education too. In general, unlike many British children, most American kids appear to possess a greater understanding of the value of a good education. They also place greater importance in achieving good grades and tend towards a work ethic that is somewhat alien to our kids. They realise that a university education isn’t handed to you on a plate and, shock horror, that you actually have to ‘work’ for it.

Although it’s great to hold those big aspirations the reality of the situation is; the higher the level you aspire to, the greater the level of work required and, the greater possibility you will experience a failure of your personal expectations! It’s all about having contentment in achieving self-actualization, not the aspirations or expectations of another. A well-known and much discussed theory in psychology, and one admirably explained within Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation explains much about the situation.

Abraham Maslow developed a theory of personality, most often explained in the form of a pyramid diagram, it is one which has influenced a number of different fields, including education. This wide influence is due in part to the high level of practicality of Maslow’s theory and it accurately describes many realities of personal experiences. The shape of a pyramid obviously precludes all those who climb it from being able to actually stand on the summit. Perhaps this is why so many in our society, tend to try and invert the pyramid, in an effort to create greater space for those attempting the ascent? However, if a pyramid is to remain stable and solid, it requires the greater part of its mass to be at the bottom.

Recently, in a slightly different context, Robin Fox, Ph.D., D.Sc., anthropologist, poet and essayist, a University Professor of Social Theory at Rutgers University said, when pondering an answer to the question ‘Is inverting the population pyramid a move too far?

My theme is roughly that the tribal system of physical, emotional, mental and social traits is our default system, since it is the system we evolved in for 99% of our time as a species. It follows that many things we take for granted are a result of civilization and particularly industrial civilization and that these occurred virtually overnight in historic and evolutionary time. (Evolution is history that lasts long enough for genetic changes to take place.) The question is: how sustainable are these changes that happened in the blink of an evolutionary eye? (Prof. Robin Fox)

It is impossible for us all to get to the top and in life we need to stop trying to invert the pyramid or at the very least, inject a little more reality into our expectation pyramid 😉

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