I had the ‘the talk’ with my 10 year-old son. You know, the talk every sports parent is dreading right now.
I was nervous. I practiced. I really wanted his mom to do it. I mean, how do you tell a young boy that his entire baseball season is likely to be cancelled? He can grasp that school is out and Fenway Park is quiet, but the Little League season too?! This is the same kid who tears up if practice is cancelled due to rain. How do you explain a season-long rain out?
I stumbled over the reasons and tried to stay positive, while also balancing realistic expectations. I kept thinking, kids only get so many years to make memories and to lose an entire season is just heartbreaking. It took a 10 year-old to change my perspective.
“It’s ok,” my son assured me. “Did you know that Ted Williams missed five full seasons because of the war?”
Good point. (Full disclosure: he is researching Ted Williams for his end-of-year 5th grade research project.)
“Ted Williams didn’t want to miss baseball, but he said he never regretted serving in the Marines. He knew that his service was more important than baseball,” he added. “Chris Sale is also going to miss this year and probably next year due to his arm injury.”
While certainly two very different set of circumstances, missing time and having long periods of not playing is part of the sports experience. The lessons learned and the perspective gained when we cannot play stay with a player for a long time.
Season-ending injuries are common. Sitting on the bench for long stretches or even the entire season is a reality for many players at some point in a career. How athletes respond however will certainly vary.
At the end of every professional sports season, the league announces its annual awards, such as Rookie of the Year and, of course, MVP. My favorite award is the “Comeback Player of the Year.” There is something powerful about celebrating a player who bounces back and overcomes obstacles.
Sports will make a comeback, and kids will too. Players and coaches must use this time to develop personal skills, such as discipline, learning what it means to sacrifice, and of course how to demonstrate humility. All of these skills will serve them well when the umpire finally yells those two words we desperately want to hear: Play Ball!
Before that day comes, however, we must remember we are part of a larger team right now. Positive Coaching Alliance’s national campaign is challenging coaches, athletes, and leagues to embrace the idea that “Life is a Team Sport.” We all have roles to play during this crisis – and for many that means not playing. Players aren’t stuck at home, they are where every baseball player strives to be . . . safe at home.