Remember When?

tillery4.jpgRemember when sports media actually did their jobs and covered games instead of the irrelevant soap opera? Remember when you would sneak a peak at the ‘ship but it was way past your bed time? Remember hearing your Dad fight Pop like hard in trying to convince your Mom to let you stay up ’til the wee hours of the night? “Let the boy watch the game! He’ll be alright in the morning. He might learn something. It’s the championship game baby, let the kid be a kid!”, you heard your Dad exclaim. Remember when you could tell if your team won or lost by your Dad’s reaction even though you were falling fast asleep but you smiled because he stuck up for you? Remember when you and your Dad or some other family member actually had a catch instead of hitting the sticks and playing your favorite video game alone?

Remember when…..?

2002. I was going through a divorce with my children’s mother and because of my work schedule visited with my kids during the week. During the marriage, I made sure my daughter and sons were at every game I participated as a coach or player–whether it was football, baseball, softball or basketball. They would bring their little guy equipment and have their independent fun on the sideline while my old ass gasped for air playing, or hawk eyed coached.

I had a thought one day when seeing one of my sons playing catch with himself.

tillery3.jpgI developed this game we called 50. The game’s object was to see how long we could have a catch without dropping the football or baseball–while counting to the number 50. The kids were young–6, 8 and 10–so this was also a chance to enforce basic math. We couldn’t back up to brace for the catch while the ball was in the air and if the ball touched the ground, push ups were in order–even with me. We counted back and forth and I quickly learned this simple game gave the kids confidence while also strengthening their upper body. Around 40 I would make it a little more difficult and make the kids move a little–either by throwing a moon gazing pop up or something hard to their left or right. They were so happy when we finally hit 50 that most of the time they would continue the count until they just ran out of gas. We had some great days and even though I wasn’t getting along with their Mother, I truly appreciated time spent because those moments are burned to memory. My daughter and the boys have above average arms, but that truly is a side note compared to the time spent with Dad.

I miss those times. The kids are all older now and playing sports at a high level year round. I find solace is seeing someone else coach my kids and also in the good grades they have brought home. I see that sports has given them a well rounded personality that will bode well when the perils of present society beckons.

Sports aren’t only the bonding moments obviously. That must be stressed here. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks with tried and true examples of spending time with your children.

tillery1.jpgThe women in my life constantly tell me that it’s not just about sports. I say to them that on the surface they are correct, but sport are a big part of life. Where else can you learn about race, culture, determination, discipline, leadership, judging priorities accordingly, self esteem and comraderie (to name a few), while also having fun?

For those out there who view sports as entertainment, I implore you to reflect back on similar memories you had with your Father growing up. You may see sports as entertainment but others view it much differently as something more real. The laughs, the smiles, the feeling of accomplishment and also the bonding moments are yours forever.

Pass them on.

Happiness and release from stress are things we all can use and giving back should give us the most joy.

I recently split from my fiancee’ of four years. During that time I had the pleasure of teaching her sons, Javin and Josh Taylor, football, baseball and basketball. I found as much love in teaching them as I did my own kids.

It’s just not about our own. Our responsibility as men is to be leaders to those who come after us. Demeaning or disregarding that notion negatively affects us all I assure you.

Javin, 12, has hit 5 home runs and is one of the best players in his league and has won consecutive state championships playing football in two different states. Josh, 8, has an awarness at that will keep him game sound as he matures. It’s sad that I won’t get to see their talent through, but they’ve been given a true blueprint on how it’s supposed to be done.

Kids you have to get the grades to make the athletic accomplishment credible.

I love to coach. I get no greater joy than to see a kid turn the corner even and subsequently feel the smile that comes with initial athletic achievement. I do this even though I have to hear parents and fans screaming disparaging remarks about me and my team, opposing coaches immaturely snickering at my players, umpires squeezing my pitchers and enduring coaches in the same dugout that have different but negative agendas.

It’s for the kids period.

I’ve also had the pleasure of coaching a 10 year old who has become a star, Thomas Stover. He bats third, plays shortstop and hits the cover off the ball in his first year in Little League. I used to wonder why this kid is so good, but I certainly don’t anymore. I see his entire family in the stands every game shouting encouragement to the entire team and I look no further.

Support your kids in anything they do and you will see positive results.

tillery2.jpgHis Father is a big reason Thomas is quite the player. I didn’t see his Father play, but I can see vividly the imprint he has instilled in his son. I’m honored to have coached similar kids who are humble and put the team first while also excelling. Of course I don’t mind the kid who tries his best but is marginal because the effort is there. I appreciate the effort more than the kid who is great but has a cancerous attitude. You also as a coach have to teach kids to win. No, it’s no all about winning, but this trait will help them get through any life storm.

This is what it’s all about.

Why do you hate players that you don’t even know? What is that? Is it something within that causes the envy of certain athletes? Kids don’t need to see that when they watch a game in the stands. Take it back to the backyard Dads. Do you really want some writer or fan to spit fire hatred when speaking of your son or daughter? It would hurt because the subject of that hatred is your family wouldn’t it? If we the consumer wants to change the way positive athletes are characterized it will eventually happen.

So when you see denigrating stories about athletes that are typical rush to judgments, visualize that athlete as a youngster having a catch with their Pop, or you doing the same with your Father. Yeah, sports has become a multibillion dollar industry that wasn’t created alone on heart warming Father and son stories, but understand that the root of sports is grounded in the Father child relationship.

Happy Father’s Day Dad. After dinner today, take some time out and bond with your son or daughter. I don’t care if it’s flying a kite, working on the car, cutting the grass or playing a fun game of 50. Do it for him or her.

They look up to you regardless if you are accomplished or not. You are their role model.

The success you have had is deeply entrenched in your children. Bring that family trait to the surface and help us all.


6 Responses to “Remember When?”

  1. Hmph.

    You want sports fans to humanize their entertainment.

    You would have a better chance of getting kids to relate better to the monsters in order to keep Pac Man from eating them all the time.

    People…the masses if you will…
    They YEARN to love and hate and relish it with all their being.

    You are asking them to take all the fun away.

    Horse is out of the barn, playa.

    It all goes downhill from here, im afraid

  2. TheLastPoet Says:

    Thanks, Mizzo

    As for me, my daughter, though she does have my build, she hasn’t taken up any of my athletic accomplishments, but rather she’s taken after my nerdy side. So instead of “50” – which is brilliant, by the way – we might see who can read 50 chapters worth of books first, or devise sophisticated ways to trap the rats who live in our back yard (Harlem, man, that’s just Harlem, where we turn the neighborhood rats into a scientific experiment!).

    Horse might be “out of the barn,” as our cynical friend reminds us, but damned if we don’t have a responsibility to at least try to push the em-eff back in!

    Nice work.

  3. Thanks Poet. You are more than correct in stating that there’s more to it than sports. As a father, I want my kids to enjoy their athletic livlihood–while they can.

    DW yeah the horse is out of the barn, but like Poet said, the responsibility is what’s key. Damn right it’s broke. Let’s get it back to where we can fix it.

    I write sports because of the emotional ninth inning. The free throw when the crowd is screaming MISS IT! The TO cry after the Steve Young ball flies.

    It’s not about money to me. It’s about the quest to become more than what my kids were before they played sports. The athlete perspective is deep in me and the dream for a better life is what I strive for. There is so much more to it than the sensationalist pen…The relationships that happen by chance. The clutch moments. The ability to create their own horoscope. The love of the game means more to me than the 250 million dollar contracts.

  4. TheLastPoet Says:

    Man, I hate that more people didn’t respond to this excellent piece.

    I dunno, Mizzo, maybe you gotta have kids to fully understand.

    Still, the paucity of comments lets us know what we’re up against. DaveyWayne was right, but we already knew that… Damn, I’m prayin for the babies, bro!

  5. I hear you Poet. I guess you instrumental in developing their consciousness to relate. It is what it is. We let the kids run amok and then complain when something bad happens.


    We should care more about the hear and now instead of when the new Iphone becomes available 😉

  6. eh you have to be*

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