To Quit or Not to Quit: That is the Question
By Heather Parker, with Dr. Jason Richardson
When BMX families drift out of the sport, it seems that parents are the ones who struggle with a feeling of loss when their kid calls it quits. Traveling to new places, the excitement of the race, and especially the friends that become like family all make it difficult for parents to let go if and when the time comes. This can naturally lead to pushing a child to keep going when it might be time to let go.
Riders leave the sport for a variety of reasons; boredom, fear or injury, to name a few. As parents, we always want to do what’s best for our kids, but sometimes we may not know what that is. How do we know if it’s time to step away from BMX racing? To help us find out, we consulted Dr. Jason Richardson:
1). What are the signs that a rider should call it quits?
Great question – and loaded! Depending on proficiency and age, I would want to be clear about quitting vs. taking a break. In some cases, quitting is warranted when the injuries seem to stack up more than the good results, the good results are not enjoyed as much when they happen, and if there are truly other things the rider would rather be doing or want to try out (again – be clear about taking a break vs. quitting!).
2). How can a parent know when it is time to let their child quit?
See above. Also, from a parental perspective, it is important to understand WHY the kid may want to quit. Are they just pouting because they are in a slump? Did they make a commitment to the team? If so, is the child going to tell the team, “Thank you, but I think I am going to take a break from racing at this time?” Or is the parent going to handle this for him/her? Age plays a role with the last one for sure! Lastly, what is the child getting out of the sport and are they still getting something out of competing? Meaning, a sense of self, fulfillment, happiness, accomplishment, lessons learned, friendships, etc… In some cases all of those things do run their respective course and it may be time to move on to something more rewarding – regardless of sponsorship or scholarship opportunities.
3). If it is not time to quit, but the child seems to not be happy in the sport, how does the parent help them find their way?
Here are some tips for this one (not in order):
* Take a break. Play another sport, only race locals/state level, put the bike down and pick up another sport, or even another bike, for perspective. Lots of BMXers put down their BMX bike, and try MTB or Road for a while, and they come back to the BMX track with a renewed level of stoke.
* Go back to basics
* If they are able (and of age), they can mentor/teach younger riders
* Change the scenery. Not everyone can do this but this may be some of what I suggested in “taking a break,” or it could be traveling to a different part of the country to ride and staying with a friend/family.
“Quitting” has a certain degree of finality to it. Since the degrees between taking a break and quitting are so slight, it doesn’t hurt to call it “laying off for a while,” whatever the intention at the time. This gives the rider the option to say “hey, let’s go out to the track this weekend” when s/he starts feeling the old itch for fast-twitch. Unless, of course, the family decides to divorce from BMX entirely, sell all their BMX gear, and get into something else for the long haul.
Thank you Dr. JRich for shedding some light on this topic for us! Learning the difference between needing a break and calling it quits can help us all guide our kids in the right direction, and hopefully help them to be happy in BMX, or whatever else they choose to do.
Editor’s Note: The bike shown in the top photo is not actually for sale. We’re “laying off for a while.” /MC