Thursday, January 19, 2012

Could you do any better?

For years, my son played hockey for the local team (from the young "mites" team to the PeeWees).  This year we decided not to continue, but during those times when he'd play, observing other parents' behaviors always gave me a moment of pause.  For most of them (present company included), they couldn't skate worth a damn (if at all), yet they ridiculed their sons for not playing their absolute best, even in the face of great odds.

Okay, you always want your children to do their best, but to yell at them when a puck slides on by or when they missed shot, I feel like saying to them: "Why don't you get your ass out there?  Could you do any better?"

The same goes for what are called armchair quarterbacks.  These are people who live and breathe the success or failures of their professional sports teams and ridicule them for not doing their best.  Don't get me wrong, a number of professional atheletes do screw up from time to time (hey, they're human, what do you expect), but when you look at the hours upon hours upon hours (should I go on?) that they spent perfecting their craft, one should admire them for it and apply the same principles of success to your own life.

I grew up in a small Minnesota town who lived and died by its high school hockey team--and still does to this day.  There are a few who have gone on to the NHL.  Very impressive.  One was even on the 1980 U.S. Olympic "Miracle" Hockey Team.  Do you know how he did it?  He woke up very early in the morning, went to the ice rink, and worked on his skills for hours at a time.  He did this practically every day.  The high school team at the time didn't have early morning practices, but that didn't matter to him.  He loved hockey so much and wanted to be the best at it.  Nowadays, many of the teams (from most age groups) in that town have early morning practices because of what this young man did, in the hopes that every single player will be the next Wayne Gretzky.  One of my cousins was on this team, but quit a few years ago.  When I spoke with him, do you know how often they had practices?  Seven days a week.  Let me repeat that: they had practices seven days a week.  Unless there was a game, of course.  Do these kids go to practice for the pure love of hockey?  I'll bet if you sit down and ask them to answer honestly, you'll get very few who will say "yes."

So the next time your favorite sports team misses a catch or a basket or whatever, don't riducule them.  Ask yourself: could you do any better?

As an aside, I am not a sports watcher.  I never grew up watching sports.  I have watched games from time to time, but it's not something I avidly do.  I understand that a good many people do and love watching them.  That's great.  Cheer on your favorite team to your heart's content.  Everyone needs a fan, even the Minnesota Vikings.  But remember: they're only human.  And if you really are a fan, study the lives of the players and the sacrifices they made to get where they are today.  You might be more impressed when you see where they came from.

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