SEVEN THINGS TO REMEMBER ON FATHER'S DAY
(A Warning Label From The Sports Page.)
- Timmy is not going to be a professional athlete. I am sorry to break this to you, but facts are facts. If you're looking at that little bruiser of yours -- how old is he now, nine? Ten? Handsome kid -- and think he is the next Tom Brady, Mike Trout or LeBron James, please think again. I know he is a fine athlete for his age, has hit a bunch of home runs on that Little League farm team, was a lights-out quarterback in Pop Warner, can dunk on that eight-foot basket. Good for him. Good for you. It's still not going to happen.
- Timmy is not going to be a professional athlete. Do you know how hard it is to make the roster of a famous team in a famous American professional sports league? We prattle all the time about the frailties and mistakes of stars and superstars, but how many people do you know from the old hometown, actually know, who made the roster of any team in any big league? Of those people, how many made it big in that big league? I'm guessing that the figure might be around zero. Maybe one. There probably was old What's-His-Name from the high school who was going to be a lock with the Detroit Lions until his knee was twisted. And So-and-So, who was in the Mets chain when his arm blew out. They don't count. Who do you actually know who made it big?
- Timmy is not going to be a professional athlete. Here are a few numbers from the NCAA to give my argument a statistical analysis kind of look. Imagine some graphs here. Maybe a few of those pie charts. The NCAA says that 0.03 per cent of 545,844 current high school basketball players ever will be drafted. That's 48 players out of 545,844. That's drafted, not even on the team. The number in football is a little better, 0.08 per cent, 255 players out of the 1,108,441 high school players, but again, that's drafted. What percentage of these draftees stick? What percentage sticks long enough for an NFL pension? Ridiculous.
- Timmy is not going to be a professional athlete. I know he loves the games. I know you do, too. I know you watch the Bruins, the Blackhawks, the Ottawa Senators in the rec room together, wear the jerseys, give each other high fives every time the home team scores, maybe ice cream all around after a win. It's all very good, draws you closer. You change the major league standings on the refrigerator every day. You look at his new baseball cards and maybe he looks at your old baseball cards and hears the stories. I know it would be a dream come true for both of you if his face was on one of those cards someday. This is not going to happen. No. It also would be wonderful if a pelican appeared in the backyard and gave you a billion dollars. Not going to happen.
- Timmy is not going to be a professional athlete. Here are a couple more numbers. I found them online at some Boys Town web site. Seven million boys and girls play organized sports in high school. Only 126,000 of those kids will receive full or partial athletic scholarships for college. So even that dream is shaky. Look in the mirror. Do you have a unique shape? Have you always been bigger than your peers? Faster? Do you have better balance? Did you ever play college sports yourself? High school sports? I know that your life turned when that jayvee coach, that idiot, didn't recognize your ability and dedication, didn't start you over his nephew in the big game. Things could have been much different. Sure. Did you ever notice that most of these big-time athletes come from a family of pretty good athletes? Are you a coach? Did you ever notice how many great athletes are coaches' sons? Talent seems to beget talent.
- Timmy is not going to be a professional athlete. So what's the point here? Relax. I guess that's the point. Just relax. When you go to the games, you don't have to yell at the referees who are getting 35 bucks to tell little kids whether they have double-dribbled or not. You don't have to hate Timmy's myopic coach, a direct descendent of the idiot who couldn't see your own abilities. You don't have to yell back at the fans from the other team, even that fat woman with the mouth on her. Relax. Enjoy the afternoon or night. This is a game. This should be play, fun. You could even -- and here's a strange concept -- let Timmy play some games without you watching, without you there to correct his every fault. Let him tell you how it went when he gets home. He can correct his own faults.
- Timmy is not going to be a professional athlete. In 2013, there are a bunch of other things for kids to do. Let Timmy do them. Encourage him to do them. Sports can be a nice paprika, a seasoning on life. They shouldn't be life itself. There's no need for you to be The Great Santini, trying to mold your kid into the shape you think would be best. The kid will find his own shape without you soon enough. A final stat says that 41 million American kids play organized sports. Seventy per cent will quit by the age 13, which happens to be puberty. Things happen. Take the moment that is here. Be satisfied.
Enjoy your kid.
And have a great day.