The poster boy for the overzealous parent is Steve Marinovich, who tried to groom his son Todd from early childhood to become an NFL quarterback.
He didn't do a bad job in that regard. Todd grew up to be a starting quarterback at USC, one of the nation's premier college football factories, and played with the Oakland Raiders in the NFL.
However, when last heard from, Todd had been arrested for smoking weed on a beach in California. He is 38 years old and is looking for his future.
Fears about future Marinovich types surface frequently in an era in which parents send their sons and daughters to fitness clubs and speed camps, enroll them on all-star traveling teams and hire personal trainers. Some spend as much as $3,000 or $4,000 annually or $12,000 over two years and pay $40 to $120 a session for personal trainers.
What is their purpose? What is their goal? Do they want their kids to be future Olympians, college All-Amereicans or professional athletes?
"Yes, some parents are overbearing," said Don Beebe, a former NFL player who owns House of Speed in Sugar Grove. "But I haven't been aware of anyone who resembles the Marinovich type.
"Instead, some parents are motivated to get college paid for, not to see their kis on television or in the NFL. They see it as an investment, like buying a stock or bond and hoping it will mature and be worth more in 15 years."
David Buchanan, president of ProSport Training and Rehab in Rolling Meadows, agrees.
"I don't see parents who think they have a kid who will play pro," Buchanan said. "If they are thinking it, they aren't saying it. They are taking one step at a time. They just want their kid to have a good high school experience, get faster, stronger, avoid injury, be aware of their body, help them play better and see what happens next. They talk college scholarship, not NBA or NFL or major league baseball."
But the costs can be staggering. For example, it could cost $3,000 to $4,000 to have a son or daughter compete on a traveling club for one season. Beebe said it costs $1,200 for an annual membership to House of Speed. And a fitness or personal trainer costs $40 to $120 an hour or $2,000 annually. Buchanan said some parents invest as much as $12,000 for two years.
"Kids start at age 12-13, before they become overly committed to one sport or another," Buchanan said. "Soccer has taken off. There are a lot more kids involved in soccer than 15 years ago. They tend to be one-sport athletes as opposed to football players. It is rare to find one-sport football players today.
"But the pressure of trying to play at the next level is detrimental. When kids look toward a goal that is beyond them, it is difficult to develop and succeed at the rate that they need to develop. For example, some kids get hung up with the fact that they run 40 yards in five seconds in eighth grade while Randy Moss runs 4.5. They don't understand it takes years to develop."