A Star Running Back and a Helicopter Mom

OK, you may not believe this story, but I have to tell it. It’s still unfolding as I write it, but Florida high school running back, Alex Collins was all set to send his letter of intent to play football at the University of Arkansas, when suddenly it was missing. What happened?  ESPN reported that Alex’s mother stole the letter, ran away with it and went into hiding. Yep—you read that right.


via Alex Collins onTtwitter

Collins is a four-star running back who wanted to attend Arkansas. His mother, like so many parents these days, wanted her son to attend a school closer to home, and went to extreme measures to prevent her son from opposing her wishes.

On signing day, “His mother has confiscated the papers, she took them and she ran,” ESPNU reported. “They’re looking for her currently. From what I understand Alex is not at the school right now, he’s looking for his mom. She was quite torn up about him leaving so far from home.”

If the ESPNU report is true, it will go down in national signing day lore as one of the zaniest tales ever. Even Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, who was interviewed on ESPNU after the report, chuckled a bit when asked if he’d ever heard anything like it. “I don’t know if I’ve heard of anyone running away with the papers,” Johnson said. “But certainly there are some funny stories with recruiting and it’s getting nuttier and nuttier as we go each year.”

What can we make of this?

Let me be blunt. We not only have a new generation of kids on our hands today, (ones from what I call Generation iY), but we have a new generation of parents. These people find it difficult to trust the process of their own child’s growth, to stop protecting and start preparing, to see that their number one job is to equip their child to live without them—and to finally, let go of them.

I totally understand Alex’s mother’s desire for her son to live closer to home. I would have liked that too…but my daughter and I looked at several colleges and she chose one thirteen hours from home. And she grew up because of it. By college time, it’s not about parents getting what they want. It’s not even about kids getting what they want. It’s about our sons and daughters growing into the best men and women they can be, which might just occur best in Arkansas not Florida. Especially with a hovering mother in Florida. Enabling a child to grow up is like teaching them to ride a bike. There’s a tender balance of support AND letting go.

I heard someone comment that if Alex cannot run his mother down and get that letter of intent back…he may not be fast enough for the SEC anyway.

I’m just sayin’…

A Star Running Back and a Helicopter Mom