IN THE REHAB ZONE

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A Pro Contract for a 13 Year Old? What’s the Game Plan?

Soccer player Olivia Moultrie has signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Nike and a representation pact with sports agency Wasserman Media Group, according to The New York Times. That’s great for her, assuming that she’s still able to play when she’s older, like age 16.

Olivia has trained with some of Europe’s biggest clubs, and her dad couldn’t be more proud.

“I feel for literally almost every kid in girls’ soccer, you should go to college; there’s not a million dollars at the end of the rainbow,” K.C. Moultrie said in an interview with The New York Times last year. “I think if you’re truly, truly elite, if your goal is to be a world-class player and a pro and, in Olivia’s case, to be the best player in the world, there’s no way it’s better to play college than it is to play full time

Youth sports can be both a tremendous part of a young person’s life, but also all consuming for both the kids and the parents. I know that as both a parent of an elite athlete and a chiropractor and doctor for high school sports teams. I have worked with dozens of students who have gone on to successful collegiate athletic careers, and others who now play sports professionally.

Moultrie’s story, however, should make us all take a step back and ask the question: “Do the parents have the right end game in mind?” Certainly I wouldn’t advocate passing up on a Nike contract, even if my child were 13. Moultrie’s agent would not tell the New York Times how much the deal was for, but the Times reported that he reveelad that it “was worth more financially than a four-year scholarship at a top university,” which on a full ride is averaging about $300,000.

That’s great, but has Olivia, who has been home schooled since she was in fifth grade, and her family developed her Plan B: What to do if she suffers a career-ending injury, or Our Plan C: She simply doesn’t pan out on the professional stage, which is a possibility considering that she hasn’t fully matured, physically or emotionally.

For me, I would try to go into the entire experience making choices with eyes wide open. Serious questions need to be answered before making the leap. For instance:

-Will you benefit later from passing up the High School Experience?

-Are you willing to forgo college entirely?

-What is the plan when the Nike contract runs out?  Does it set you up for life or will you be 19 years old, looking for a job with no education?

I’m not sure how good the track record is with these situations, but I sincerely hope the Moultries have thought this thing through, especially since her professional playing opportunities are limited, seeing that both FIFA and the U.S. National Women’s Soccer League rules prohibit athletes from signing to play professionally until they’re 18.

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