Parenting Dilemmas: Justin

Football Fantasy

"My dream job is working in the NFL draft. I think school is pointless because there's nothing that's going to teach me to become an NFL draft coordinator," says 15-year-old Justin. One morning, he woke up and told his

parents he wasn't going to go to school anymore. "It was just me telling myself, 'Why are you getting up this early to go to classes you don't need?'" he says. "I'm now taking Algebra II. I don't know where I'm going to use a quadratic equation at all. Next semester, I have Spanish, which I don't really feel I need. I'm not going to ever go up to someone and say, ‘Como estás.'"


Wendy, Justin's mother, recalls, "He told me, 'People make it without getting a high school diploma,' and I said, 'Not many.'" She and her husband, David, are in a quandary. "It's kind of tough as a parent, because part of me

and my husband agrees with him. Probably some of those things that he's learning he won't ever use."


Justin says that his dad even acknowledges that he won't be using some of the information he learns in class. "When you hear that, you feel happy that someone agrees with you," he says. "There's no motivation for school for me at all. If I was doing classes that I know I needed, and I was taking things that would help me to my goal, then I would definitely be motivated."


Wendy worries for her son's future. "I'm afraid that Justin's attitude with not wanting to go to school is going to keep him from achieving his goals and what he wants out of his life," she says. 

Dr. Phil asks David, "You kind of agree with [Justin], right?"

"I basically just think that a lot of what they teach in school the average person is not going to need," David explains.

"But you understand that if you say that to him, that's like throwing gas on a fire," Dr. Phil says.

"Yeah, I guess it is," David says.

"I kind of agree with your dad," Dr. Phil tells Justin. "They do teach a lot of stuff in school that you might not need and you might not want."

If Justin had his way, school would be a half day. "I play backyard football with a bunch of friends. I could do that a lot more, and I could not worry about the next day of school, having to be so tired. I could have plenty of time to come back and get a good night's sleep," he explains.

"This is so like looking in the mirror," Dr. Phil says, smiling."What if there are things that they're teaching you that are in that curriculum because people generation-to-generation figured out, ‘Wow, we really do need to know that stuff,' and you just don't know it yet?" Dr. Phil asks. "Is it pos
sible that you don't know what you don't know?"

"It's definitely possible," Justin says, "but I see people like my parents, and they agree [that they don't use certain things they learned]."

"Is it possible that if you went to a job interview, and they said to you, ‘You know what? I like you. I do. You seem bright and energetic, but I don't know whether you have the ability to learn or not?'" Dr. Phil asks Justin. He explains that a prospective employer may look at the fact that Justin quit school and then question his abilities to learn, set goals, get along with others and manage people. "You don't necessarily have an interest in what they learned; you have an interest in their demonstrated ability to learn, and their demonstrated ability to set a long-term goal."

Dr. Phil tells Justin that the show contacted Eric DeCosta, the director of college scouting for the Baltimore Ravens, one of Justin's favorite teams, to find out what it really takes to work in the NFL draft.

In his video message to Justin, Eric says, "Education is critical, Justin. All of our scouts have at least a bachelor's degree, and three of our scouts actually have master's degrees in different fields. To be a good scout, you've got to be able to write effectively, communicate well and explain what you see. I think high school and college are very, very important for training you to get to that particular point. Study hard, stay in school, be involved with football as
much as you can, and you can one day be a scout in the National Football League.

"After you graduate, contact me in Baltimore, and we can talk about you eventually being a scout for the Baltimore Ravens, someday. Best of luck."

Dr. Phil reiterates an important point Eric made. "They don't have a single person in their organization involved with the draft that doesn't have a college degree," he tells Justin.

Dr. Phil tells Justin that the show also spoke with the president of Sports Management Worldwide. "He says that if you stay in school, and you keep your grades up, that he is going to make you an honorary guest at the NFL Draft Combine," Dr. Phil says. "You will meet team owners and athletes from all over the country." Justin will also get a behind-the-scenes look and meet the coaches and scouts. "He thinks it will cause you to recognize what you need to focus on in school, and that you do need to continue that."

Justin says that he is game for the challenge.