Myth #1: Skating is expensive.
Training for Nationals is expensive. Skating is one of the cheapest entertainments around. Park district skating classes are no more expensive than any other park district classes. Skates, even decent skates, cost less than a bicycle new, and can be extremely cheap used. It's easy to find kid's gently used skates. (More on buying skates.)
Myth #2: If my child start privates, it means I think s/he's going to the Olympics
I've said it before: no one avoids music lessons because the kid isn't destined for Carnegie Hall. No one thinks you believe your kid is ready for Manchester United just because you sign up for soccer. Like anything else, you can skim the surface or dig in deep. Skating lessons are not a lifetime commitment to second mortgages.
Myth #3: Ice dancers can't jump/ice dance lessons detract from "real" skating
Let's explode this one. Ice dance is one of the best ways to learn power and body alignment. Ice dance is not full of skaters who bombed at singles; it is full of skaters who wanted the greater emotional and artistic range tolerated in the discipline. Many ice dancers, my own daughter included, have the full range of double and even triple jumps. Yes, when you get to the higher levels you stop training the other disciplines. But that works both ways. Might as well say "singles skaters can't dance."
Myth #4: Synchro skating ruins your technique
Like ice dance, synchro skating uses different techniques, not "bad" technique. Synchro skating, far from depleting the world of strong singles skaters, is the single most important discipline in skating right now because of the number of kids who now stay in skating so that they can be on the synchro team. Kids that used to quit in high school are now sticking with the sport. In fact, write to the NCAA right now and demand that Synchro be added as an NCAA sport!
Myth #5: Skaters are cliquish and mean
This one actually has a basis in truth, but not because of the skating. It's because middle school girls in general can be cliquish and mean. In fact, skaters, because of the independence and physical discipline required of the sport, tend to be more emotionally mature than their peers. I actually use this myth in teaching, because of a remark my daughter once made, when she said the good skaters looked so snotty. This is because when they skate, they have their noses in the air-- it's not arrogance! It's technique! I now tell kids "let me see 'snotty skater girl' posture!" They all know what I mean.
Myth #6: Figure skating will make my son gay
Just. No. Figure skating, like other artistic disciplines, sometimes attracts gay youth, but trust me, they were there already. Good news is, your gay son won't get married and move away. And he'll go shopping with you.
Myth #7: My coach will make my child starve herself
If your coach is doing weigh-ins and/or checking your child's eating habits, she or he is abusive. It's one thing to note when a child is losing or gaining weight inappropriately. It's fine to instruct a student in healthy eating for athletes and other human beings. Other than insisting on only healthy snacks at the rink, it's entirely wrong for the coach to make eating habits an issue, in the absence of any direct knowledge that the child has bad eating habits. You, as the parent, may concern yourself with the child's eating habits, and I hope you're teaching them how to eat healthy, whole, seasonal foods. But it's your business, not the coach's.
Myth #8: Taking class with a different coach will ruin the primary coach's technique.
Your coach's technique should be strong enough to withstand a once or twice a week class from another perspective. There are lots of different techniques; they all work and the skater should be aware of them all. Knowledge of other techniques does not "ruin" a skater; in terms of life lessons, it's a powerful one to learn that people who respect and get along with each other can disagree.
UPDATE Myth #9: If the skater does not have all the double jumps by the age of 10, it's too late to be competitive.
There are lots and lots of successful skaters who did not start until age 9 or later. Dorothy Hamill started at 9. Kurt Browning started at 13*, and he's Canadian! (How did his parents avoid jail time!) The correlating myth is that there is a specific level a skater "should" be at by a certain age. If your coach is telling you that your skater is behind simply because "at her age she should be in Free style already" or "all my students have an axel by age 7" well, that's about the coach not about the child.
*UPDATE/CORRECTION A reader did some research and learned the Kurt Browning had won some competition at age 11, so he couldn't have started skating when he was 13. He did hockey too, so he wasn't exclusively a figure skater until he was 15 or 16. The source of my information was an old bio-pic on him, but I did not confirm my memory of the statement.
UPDATE (thanks to reader Gordon) Myth #10 I can't skate, I have weak ankles Yeah? How's that walking thing working out for you?
What are some myths that you want exploded?