It’s that time of year in our national culture  :  graduations, scholarships, further schooling, military, jobs, and on and on. Difficult and often tedious decisions must be made, many that will affect young people for the rest of their lives.

After working with teens in public high schools for 30 years or so  ( 25 as an administrator at Franklin County High School ),  there’s one absolute that stands out above all others :    THEY ARE STILL KIDS !  Generally speaking,  many of them consist of about 80% hormones and the rest lies with loyalty to their friends ( no ratting ), anticipating the week-end,  sports ( either as a participant or as a fan ) and studying hard to achieve a goal. Flattery and fun go straight to their hearts, too often by-passing the brain.

I see and hear all the hoopla about college recruiting for many sports, but football jumps out as the most coveted and the most talked about, particularly this time of year.  These sought-after young athletes are rated and ranked.  They are placed on  pedestals , assigned identifying numbers based on skill sets, visited in their homes, called and texted by everyone from the grounds-keeper to the head coach——and entertained royally. Not to mention the nation-wide attention some get through the media.  But THEY ARE STILL JUST KIDS…………

Here’s my point :  do we recognize and acknowledge how young they are, how inexperienced they are, how undue pressure is harmful, where they are in their mental and emotional development,  and do they even know what they want or need ?   Many of them have parents who are more than capable of  offering sound advice and providing a balance leading to best decisions.  And that is a blessing !  But way too many have parents who don’t see further than the glory of the moment——-and the excitement of the attention, much like the kids themselves.

I am no child psychologist nor do I consider myself an expert in child development.  But my many years spent in public high school education have blessed me with somewhat of an understanding of the needs of our growing young adults.  Teens are my passion.  I have  loved the challenges of relationships with high schoolers and Byron and I have been blessed with long lives filled with boy and girl grands, who are now young adults.  So I am quite comfortable stating the it is a rare 18-year-old who can separate the wheat from the chaff  ( to quote the Bible ) when it comes to the praise, the attention, the adoration poured on at recruitment time.

So, all that being said, I love college football as much as anybody.  And I love seeing young athletes successful and happy. And I am as proud and excited as the next fan when my team has the talent and focus for the victory.  For sure, most of the time there seems to be a happy ending for all involved.

But,  THEY ARE  STILL JUST KIDS !  I pray that all the powers-that-be  ( coaches, parents, recruiters, fans , etc. ) remember that.  Kids need guidance, honesty, support, and love, whether on the field, in the classroom, or at home.  Fairness and integrity from the colleges and universities must outweigh the thrill of victory on the field although, best case scenario, with all the right pieces coming together, a gifted kid can have it all.

No matter how talented, how motivated, how focused, these young athletes are, THEY ARE STILL JUST KIDS.   Can you tell that my heart lies with the teens and young adults ?