Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I am a secondary school teacher and would like to comment on the letter from "Sports Dad Down South" (Feb. 9) about his teenaged, athletic star son.

That boy has an ego problem that is out of control. I see it in the classroom every day. Many successful athletes think that only the "little" people have to do class work, be on time to class and complete homework. They have the best relationships with their coaches who "intervene" on the athlete's behalf, regardless of behavior and effort — soliciting "help" for a student who often does not deserve it.

I have watched an athlete's arrogance fed daily by those who attach the kid's value as a person to the level of his performance at that evening's game. Abby, I hope that "Sports Dad's" stellar-performing son eventually will recognize that other influences are shallow and lack the depth of his father's love.

— TEXAS TEACHER WHO KNOWS

DEAR TEACHER: Thank you for writing. I heard from many other teachers, administrators and parents — all eager to share what they have learned in dealing with teens who are high achievers in sports. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am also the parent of a talented athlete. He was popular in high school, great in football and basketball, and was wooed to university with a scholarship in hand. The problem was, in spite of our urging to buckle down and study, he admitted to us on high school graduation night that he had cheated the whole way through. Now at 21, he has thrown away his scholarship, quit the university, and is wandering around wondering why he was never picked up by the NFL.

Somewhere in high school, amid all the accolades, our son lost touch with reality. Please advise "Sports Dad" to not give up on his son while he still has a chance, and to impress upon him how important hard work and discipline are.

— MOM IN MOURNING

DEAR ABBY: We have stressed to our college baseball star son that no matter how successful any athlete is, there will come a time when he or she retires from their beloved sport. Not everyone makes it to the pros, and not all those who do have longevity or stunning success in the sport.

Questions the youngster must consider are: (1) What will he do when he is not playing anymore? (2) How is he going to help his community and society with his talent? And most important (3) what will he do if, God forbid, he is injured?

Having an idea of what he loves besides sports is very helpful. That will help "Dad" steer him into a college and major that fit.

— BASEBALL MAMA IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR ABBY: To "Sports Dad": The fact that a 17-year-old finds your limits a problem can be a good thing, depending on how unrealistic his attitude is. His dislike of your parental positions can mean you are doing a good job. Kids really do not respect a doormat. He can have many friends, but he has only one dad.

— KATHY IN METAIRIE, LA.

DEAR ABBY: Has it occurred to "Sports Dad" to investigate the possibility that his son's behavior might be caused by steroids?

— KATE IN ATLANTA

DEAR ABBY: That father and son remind me of a saying I heard years ago: "When they are 5 years old, they have all the questions. When they are 17, they have all the answers." I've found out through the years that this isn't far from reality.

— BURL IN DALLAS, N.C.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.