Dear Coach: I'm the only white person on my high school basketball team. I sometimes feel as if I'm getting the cold shoulder from my teammates. Am I being paranoid, or could race really be the reason?
Dear Frozen: "You're not paranoid, and you're not alone," says Kenneth Shropshire, author of In Black and White: Race and Sports in America. "Self-segregated training tables and buses are common in sports at all levels. You're experiencing the snuggle that broader society faces every day." Luckily, the team environment encourages unity, so it can be an effective place to break down racial barriers without overtly addressing them. Says Shropshire: "You can go out and talk about plays over a burger, not to improve race relations but to improve your team. You can step in and play a role."
Dear Coach: My two-year-old son is physically advanced for his age. How old does he have to be before I start him in organized sports?
Dear Bonus: Whoa, ease up on the pedal there, Dad! "Everybody thinks he's got the next Tiger Woods," says child psychologist Darrell Burnett. "The majority of these phenoms will burn out if their parents aren't careful." Before age six, kids aren't prepared to compete in organized sports. Their coordination isn't sufficiently developed, and they lack the ability to focus at length on a task. Sports are fine, as long as they're geared toward a child's enjoyment, which ought to be the only goal. Says Burnett, "Once you start giving instructions, the fun is gone, and so's the motivation."