If you’ve followed me for any length of time you likely know that one of my favorite (or least favorite) subject deals with overbearing parents and youth and high school sports.

(Townsquare Media )
(Townsquare Media )

There are numerous examples of parents whose behavior has crossed the line and in many cases torn apart teams, forced coaches to quit and ruined what should be a positive experience for young athletes. It’s not quite an epidemic but a problem that shows no signs of letting up.

I mention this after someone sent me a Los Angeles Times column from earlier this month about a 17-year old high school senior whose father pushed him so hard that he’s been diagnosed with a neurological disorder that left him in constant pain for years.  Aidan Cullen played soccer, basketball and baseball and was pushed to the limit by his father Mark who often served as his coach.

If he was tired then he had to just suck it up and if he was hurt then told to forget the pain and keep playing even when he was just a little kid.  His performance never seemed quite good enough and sports was forced down his throat 24/7.

By the time he was in 8th grade his body was shot and there were days he could not get out of bed because of pain. He even contemplated suicide.  Aidan’s illness was finally diagnosed during his junior year in high school and due to the fact he played while hurt so often as a child.  He stayed away from sports for a while and now as a high school senior is a member of the baseball team but he is limited in what he can do because of his condition.

The story came to light because Mark Cullen knows he blew it and wants to prevent others from making the same mistake.  A one-time star athlete himself his infatuation with his son’s youth sports career not only physically and mentally hurt Aidan but tore apart the family.

What’s scary is there are many other Mark Cullen’s out there and some never realize it until it’s way too late.


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