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Startling fact – current economic and societal projections suggest that it is more likely than not that the majority of young people in the youngest generation now living, these young people, when they grow to adulthood, will live lives economically worse off than their parents. For the first time in American history, the kids of today/adults of tomorrow may not have lives or lifestyles better than their parents had.

What does this tell us? That the kids who were “beneficiaries” of helicopter parents are not letting go of their helicopter money? That helicopter parents raised snowplow kids – who gladly took all the helicopter money they could get their hands on, and grew into snowplow parents? Or simply, does it mean that our values have changed?

Well, clearly our values have changed – because that’s what happens – and why every generation is generally identified differently. But have Americans then somehow forgotten how to be unselfish? Perhaps we are becoming best characterized as Jonah Hill’s character says to others standing in an airport line, while he is cutting in line: “Don’t worry. I have to go first. I’m American” (Phillips, 2016).

Perhaps athletes are generally accustomed to being allowed to cut in line. It may fairly be said that there exists a characterization that athletes, for example, get special and even sometimes – preferential treatment. It’s true – isn’t it? The demands of athletics create the need for athletes to receive deferential treatment.

And that right there should stop us in our tracks. Think about it. Who most gives athletes deferential treatment? I would submit that the answer to that is: their parents. Or, in some instances, some other form of caregiver. Ultimately, the responsibility for giving athletes deferential treatment falls on parents and caregivers. Or, put another way, those making the sacrifices for the athletic growth and development of young people are parents and other care-givers. Maybe they are helicopter parents or even snowplow parents. But, hey – they’re the ones making the sacrifices. And we can identify with that because we all realize what it means to make sacrifices for people – the people, and the things, that we love.

So who do we have to thank for all those medals from the latest Olympic Games? The athletes, of course. And their caregivers. Let us not forget the caregivers. Those not-so-in-the-spotlight people who sacrificed countless hours, and energy, and resources, and all for the sake of caring for the success of someone else. Accordingly, it may fairly be said that the greatest societal value shift over the past two or three generations has been the increased value placed on implementation of a high care-quotient. So too, let us not forget to give back, to let others go first, and to remember where we come from.

Phillips. T. (2016). War Dogs: Trailer. Retrieved August 25, 2016. Available:

By Dr. Rodney J. Blackman

Dr. Blackman is the Chair of Recreation Management at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at rblackman@ussa.edu.


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