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SPECIAL REPORT: Striving For Success
CENTERVILLE -- Youth sports has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Many believe we've become a sport's obsessed culture. With parents putting immense pressure on their kids to excel on the playing field so they will eventually earn a college sports scholarship. But how often is it really worth all the time, energy and often enormous expense?
On any given Saturday the soccer fields at Oak Grove Park in Centerville are packed with parents and young athletes.
Dawn Becker of Centerville has three young boys, her five year old son plays elite soccer and baseball and her ten year old plays elite soccer, baseball and basketball.
Dawn says, "It can definitely be interesting, there are a lot of nights we are going every single night."
In fact, Dawn says her family travels to various games just about every weekend, 11 months out of the year!
But she says, "If we weren't doing what we're doing, we would be home and everybody would be separate."
And sadly over the years, she has witnessed parents behaving badly.
"Sport brings the best and worst out in some people", says Steve Dawson, Professor of Health, Fitness and Sport at Wittenberg University. He teaches
Sport Psychology and Sociology. He's also Wittenberg's Head Soccer Coach.
He says unfortunately many parents are living out their lost dreams in their children and are willing to invest thousands even tens of thousands of dollars to achieve that goal.
But if the pressure is too much and the child is doesn't excel? Dawson says, "It can have a devastating effect, especially if the child doesn't live up to expectations and the expectations are too great."
16 year old Zoey Packard of Centerville is one of the top gymnasts in the country. She won first place in the state competition last March.
Zoey says, "It's my main goal to get a scholarship."
And according to her coach, Donny Bent, she has a really good chance. Zoey works out 22 hours a week at Kids are TOPS in Centerville. Their athletes have earned 52 full college scholarships since 1981.
But for the thousands of other elite gymnasts across the country, Bent says, "It's a lot of kids for a little bit of scholarship."
In fact, only about 140 full gymnastics scholarships are awarded every year nationwide and the odds of winning a NCAA sports scholarship is a staggering low of just 2%.
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