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Brock Huard: Pressure facing young athletes is insane

14-year-old Tate Martell has made a verbal commitment to play for UW, highlighting the growing pressures on young athletes (ESPN photo)

When a 14-year-old quarterback phenom made a verbal
commitment this week to play for the University of
Washington, it raised new questions about how best to
raise young athletes.

“Sadly, in some degree, this is where we’re at. I’m not
surprised,” former UW and Seahawk quarterback Brock
Huard tells 97.3 KIRO FM.

Huard was among the nation’s top recruits as a high school
star in Puyallup back in the 90’s. While he received
plenty of calls and letter from coaches, he says it’s
nothing compared to the intense pressures facing aspiring
top-tier
athletes today.

“And it’s not just coaches. It’s all these recruiting
services and all the money wrapped up into it. There are
no rules for those guys texting you and
Facebooking you and emailing you and tweeting you and
trying to get to you through your friends and your pastors
and your families,” Huard says.

And the pressure mounts on kids at even younger ages to
develop their skills. Tate Martell, the 14-year-old San
Diego QB who received a UW scholarship offer, is just the
latest in a long line groomed at a young age.

In many cases, parents
pay thousands for private coaches, exclusive camps and
even marketing of their kids to prospective coaches and
agents before they even reach puberty.

Huard admits he feels the pressure himself as the parent
of three kids with athletic aspirations.

“Even right now I’ve got a 9-year-old daughter and it’s
like ‘should we do this select team and that team and
that coach,’ and it’s insane to some degree. I mean
where’s a kid go out and ride a bike, jump rope.”

With so much money at stake in college and pro sports, the
pressure keeps mounting on coaches to lock up talent at
any cost and parents to do whatever they can. But Huard
says it’s important to remember there are no guarantees
with Martell or any other prospect.

“This kid hasn’t even chosen a high school yet. He’s
going into 8th grade next year. First he’s got to choose
a high school. Secondly, if you know anything about
college football, is Steve Sarkisian even going to be
there in five years?”

Huard preaches balance for his own kids, encouraging them
to be involved in as many different activities as
possible. But at the end of the day, he says it’s the
price you pay to make it in this era. And as long as the
youngster and not just the parent wants it, there’s
nothing wrong with going all in on a dream.

“I hope he knows with publicity also comes, in this day
and age especially, the back end of more expectation and
more pressure. It’s one of those situations you better
talk through and this better be a driving passion of
yours,” Huard says.

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