A couple of
weeks ago I went to the All-Star Game with my Dad, who grew up in
Pittsburgh, and my two sons, Benji and Bobby. We had a great time going to
the Fan Fest, the Home Run Derby and the Game. PNC Park is one of the best
new parks and we all had a great few days of baseball and camaraderie across
three generations. During the course of the game, and watching some of the
events during the past few weeks, it’s become apparent just how lucky we
Sitting in front
of me during the game was a guy claiming to have come from Alaska just for
the all-star spectacle. He’d certainly had a few beers before the game, kept
drinking throughout, and was something of a spectacle himself. He had a sign
berating Manny Ramirez for not making an appearance in spite getting the
most votes of any AL player. He was emotionally moved during the ceremony
celebrating Roberto Clemente’s life. Through the drinking, sign waving and
stammering, he happened to get in a very poignant remark: “You’re sooooo
lucky! I’m here alone and you got your two boys and your dad too; three
generations sitting here! I got no kids of my own, wow, lucky guy!”
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
absolutely right because all the events in our life, big and small, are
about sharing with those that we care about. We’ve talked about how sports
help create a bond through generations (SportsKids.com Archive Link) and it
is evident everywhere.
recent victory at the British Open should be a stark reminder to all of us
of how precious and fleeting our special moments are. Most people are
familiar with the relationship between Tiger and his dad, Earl. Not only did
Earl teach Tiger every aspect of the game, he was also Tiger’s role model
and best friend. They had the type of relationship that most of us want with
our children and parents. After winning the British Open, the first major he
won after Earl died of cancer, Tiger couldn’t control his emotions: the
feelings of happiness and sorrow came pouring out as he hugged his caddy
with tears streaming. It was one of the most honest moments we’ll ever
Many people who
don’t have kids can’t understand the relationship and bond that parents and
their children share. I never realized how much my parents cared until I had
the perspective of loving my own children. Without this viewpoint, people
could misinterpret time spent playing and watching sports with kids as a
misguided attempt to live vicariously through them. Whether its ballet, the
arts, sports, a spelling bee or an academic decathlon, most parents view
these shared interests as time well spent bonding with their kids.
While TV shows may try to put a negative spin on a
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
involvement, most of us have it well under control and realize that we’re
having fun and building long
lasting memories with our kids. We understand that the odds of winning thelottery
are better than our kids becoming professional athletes but it doesn’t
diminish our enjoyment of being with them.
While there are lots of success stories like Tiger Woods, Mickey Mantle and
Bob Feller who had great relationships with their fathers who were
influential in teaching them the game, many portray father-son relationship
building through sports as being more akin to the fabled story of Todd
Marinovich whose father plotted his NFL career from birth. Todd’s father
Marv, an ex-USC star athlete, NFL lineman and coach, began programming his
son and never let him have a Big Mac or watch cartoons. Many may feel that
those are good things, but while Marinovich ended up as a first round draft
pick of the Raiders, he also became a drug addict and spent time in jail for
possession of marijuana. Enjoying being with your children and sharing
common interests and experiences should be considered very positive. My
friend, Steve, who I coach basketball with, and I often comment how we
prefer watching our sons play to attending a Lakers game. It’s done for
creating a bond – not creating a professional athlete.
Adam Sandler’s movie “Click” also talks about the idea that time goes fast
and it’s important to enjoy the small moments in life with your family; if
you go through on “autopilot” then you end up missing the best parts of your
life. While it’s crucial to maintain a balance and not be either “all work”
or “all play”, the realization that time doesn’t stop should allow us to
focus on our family. Shared interests, common goals and playing together, in
sports, school, drama or any other endeavor is an important element of
building long lasting multi-generational bonds.
the events you share with your kids or parents are special, like going to an
all-star game in your parent’s hometown. Sometimes the events you share are
much more trivial, like just playing catch in the park or getting to watch
your child doing something that they love. What we need to realize though is
that sharing these times, whether special or even trivial, is what brings us
all together and makes us lucky. It was truly great to go to Pittsburgh for
the all-star game, but that’s not what makes us lucky. It’s watching a game
together, coaching a team, going to a movie or having dinner together that
builds the relationships that last a lifetime. We get to do these things
nearly everyday and it’s important to appreciate those small things because
not everybody is so lucky.
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