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Commitment Issues

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Do middle school math teachers get mad if their students work on language arts assignments?


I think that’s a fair question to ask.

I wonder … do music teachers get upset if their little prodigies play both the piano and the drums?

Man, they must get pissed.

If you’re scratching your head and thinking, “Chuck, what the heck are you talking about,” then you’ll understand a dilemma I’m having.

My children like to play sports. Period. They’re both good enough to compete – and oftentimes play very well – on the softball diamond, the soccer pitch and the basketball court.

But there is this little problem. Sometimes, they can only be in one place at one time. Neither has been cloned. Neither participates in time travel. One place, one time.

And what is the first thing a youth coach does when a kid can only be at one place at one time? A coach questions the kid’s commitment.

Frankly, I’m tired of it.

You want to question a kid’s work ethic if she’s goofing off or lackadaisical when she’s there … fine.

You want to blame a 12-year-old in front of her teammates for a loss, instead of doing the coach thing and giving the kids credit for the victories and taking the blame for the losses … whatever. Coach, you and I will never see eye-to-eye on that.

But when you question commitment because the kid is playing another sport at the same time … that raises my blood pressure.

Hey coach of 12-year-olds … If my kids want to play multiple sports, shouldn’t you be in favor of that? Shouldn’t you want kids to use multiple muscles and develop multiple skillsets and thrive on being in as many competitive game situations as possible?

I wrote hundreds – yes hundreds – of player biographies during my Cubs media relations days. A heavy majority of those athletes played multiple sports in high school. Some were good enough in high school to have to make a choice which sport they were going to play IN COLLEGE.

For those of you who regularly take a look at my posts, I’ve recently written about Brian McRae – who was good enough as a high school athlete to get selected in the first round of the baseball draft and get Division I scholarship offers in football. I recently wrote about Kevin Tapani – who pitched in the majors despite not having a high school baseball team to play on. He played other sports – and that got him noticed. I talked to Kerry Wood this week – he did pretty good for himself, didn’t he – and he talked about the joy of watching his children play a bunch of different sports.

And it’s not confined to former Cubs. I talked to one of the new Chicago Bandits softball players earlier this week – Morgan Foley – about the fact that she went the Division II route for college because she couldn’t decide which sport to devote her attention to until the spring of her senior year in high school. As she said, “I really fell in love with softball and basketball – and I kept playing them all through high school … For me, I couldn’t pick one. I loved them both. I didn’t want to pick one. I don’t think kids should pick, because you need to be versatile. If you’re an athlete, you should be able to play multiple sports. Whatever sport I was playing, that was my favorite sport.” Four years later, Foley is a professional athlete.

Coach … kids can totally be committed to many things. Be thankful that they’re committed to not getting into trouble. Be thankful that they’re committed to getting along with teammates. Be thankful they want to play sports – and that other coaches and/or parents didn’t already burn them out.

But don’t question commitment if a kid plays multiple sports and chooses the other sport from time-to-time. Maybe there’s a specific reason they picked the other sport on a specific day. Maybe that reason is you.

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