Every day I gain greater appreciation for the job my parents did raising me.
I played a lot of sports as a kid--and my Dad made an effort to attend as many games as possible. Home or away, he would travel all over Northeast Wisconsin to watch--even if I wasn't getting off the bench. He would usually sit by himself, applauding whenever anyone on my team scored or made a good play. After the game, he would offer an honest assessment of my performance (usually "You need to be more aggressive").
But not all of my teammate's parents were like my Dad. Some of them liked to yell at the refs, the coaches and every player except their son whenever we would make an error or a turnover. I always felt sorry for my teammates whose parents were like that--didn't they realize that all they were doing was embarrassing their son?
There were rumors that one mother told a coach that if both of her sons didn't get the same amount of playing time--she would transfer them to another school. Another father was the president of the booster club and allegedly threatened to give up fundraising efforts if his son didn't play on varsity. And then there was the School Board President who may have been applying "pressure" on the Athletic Director to "make some changes" if his son wasn't starting.
Were those rumors true? When you're 16 or 17 years old you tend to think that they are. And I have to admit that I thought "Why isn't my Dad doing that for me?" Why wasn't he raising a stink with the coach? Why didn't he try to run the Booster Club? Why didn't he exert a little "influence" to get me off the bench? It was obviously working for other kids.
But as I get older--and more mature--I realize two things, 1--I wasn't nearly as talented as I thought I was. And 2--what my Dad did when I was young was far more beneficial for me than anything those overbearing parents did for their kids. You see, I learned the lesson that PLAYING TIME--LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE THAT IS GOING TO COME YOUR WAY IN LIFE--IS SOMETHING THAT HAS TO BE EARNED!!!! AND IT IS EARNED THROUGH HARD WORK, EFFORT AND DEDICATION!! IT IS NOT A BIRTHRIGHT!! And if all that hard work doesn't get you what you want--usually because someone is just more talented or is working even harder than you--THAT IS NOT UNFAIR!! THAT IS REALITY!! WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD, KID!!
So I just want to thank my Dad for not just being a great fan--but for also being a great father.