"What do you want to be when you grow up?" There's hardly a 5-year-old in America who hasn't been asked this question. It's understandable, because most kids start to dream about adult aspirations early on.
A teacher, an astronaut, a ballerina, a doctor... these are common and quick kid responses to the question. But there's one answer we hear a lot, and especially from kids with ADHD: a sports star.
We are a nation obsessed with sports. We treat star athletes like royalty, and top players make millions in salaries and endorsements. It's no wonder today's youth yearn to be like them. Add to that the fact that children with ADHD have energy to burn and often channel that energy into sports, and we can see why many set their sights on the athlete's life.
But is a sports career a realistic goal for a child with ADHD — or for any child? Sure, a few get to the top. But most aspirants don't. When we look at sports as a profession, we're looking at a prime example of fantasy versus reality. With the "glamour" professions (sports, acting, broadcasting, writing, and so on), you have to see past the fantasy to find out what the career really offers.
What are the required skills, and does your child possess them? What kind of lifestyle is typical of the profession, and can your child adapt to it? How would ADHD affect the probability of success? In fact, there's some clear data to help you answer these questions.
The Right Stuff
Only the very best players can expect to be considered for sports careers. What does this mean, for example, to a high school football star? It means that he must possess all of the following in order to compete:
- Superior ability to perform in the given sport, at an exceptional and consistent level.
- The ability to maintain overall body strength and health through exercise and strength training to prevent, offset, and rehabilitate injuries.
- The discipline required to stick with a healthy, regimented diet.
- A complete understanding of all rules and regulations of the sport.
- Available time for hours of practice each day.
- The ability to accept criticism in order to improve skills.
- The educational foundation for a career transition after sports.