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by Abigail Van Buren

Ne'er Do Well Son Mooches Off Mother's Meager Savings

DEAR ABBY: Last February you printed a letter I wrote signed "Sports Dad Down South" about how to handle my out-of-control son, "Trent," who was a star athlete in school. In May, you featured an entire column of letters you had received in response to mine. I thank you for that.

Just as an update, my son was expelled from his high school for behavioral issues and three failed classes. The scholarship offers he had received from several Division I universities were withdrawn.

As one mom wrote to you about her experience, the coaches pushed my son on to the next game, where he performed up to all expectations. But they forgot entirely that these kids are called "student athletes" for a reason. They are students first, athletes second. As a result of that insanity, Trent lost any chance of having a career in baseball.

A word to the wise to other parents of rising young stars: Be careful. Watch for the warning signs that you are losing control to the sports mania. I didn't recognize them and respond in time. There is no going back. Abby, if my voice can prevent another family from falling into this high school madness, I will feel I did the right thing by writing. -- SPORTS DAD SPEAKS AGAIN

DEAR SPORTS DAD: I'm glad you wrote, and so -- I am sure -- will be the parents of high school athletes everywhere. Your son has learned a bitter life lesson. But better that he learned it early than if he had been similarly pushed through college with no skills to show for it.

What happened to your son doesn't have to be a tragedy. There is still time for Trent to get his GED, to mature emotionally and decide on a direction for his future. He will find more than one road to success once he decides which path to take.