Saturday, February 7, 2009

More thoughts: Quitters never Win?

I realize that my last post was from the perspective of a decided non-athlete, and I wanted to look at it more from the angle of people who DO like and ARE good at sports. (Of course, it's still filtered through my attitudes, but I can't help that....)

For example, SWK played soccer his whole life, and left the team before his senior year of high school. He was never getting played, and he wanted to spend his senior year not putting in all those hours for practice and workouts, and then sitting on the bench every game. It wasn't a self-righteous tantrum about not getting to play--the payoff was just no longer worth what he was putting into it, so he stopped and focused on other things (he was also first chair in his section in band, for example). He still loves soccer and plays with his friends and family every chance he gets.

For some--especially raised in team sport mentality--that would definitely seem like a bad-quit. He couldn't "stick it out" one more year to say that he finished? But what if he had--what would he have achieved? The right to say "I played soccer for four years in high school" instead of three years? A felt letter that would sit in a drawer, because he didn't have a jacket it sew it to? Wooo!

His brother, PWK, stayed with soccer through high school, and selected his college based on his plan to play on their soccer team. He ended up leaving the team his freshman year, but staying at that school. Turns out they don't offer the field he wants to study--now, he's about to graduate, and is considering starting over with another bachelor's at a new school to get into the field he wants.

Tunnel vision about any activity, and not placing into the larger context of your life, can sap your time (years of it) and energy, and paint you into a corner. This is absolutely not exclusive to sports, but it does seem to happen more often there than elsewhere.

I'm not suggesting you should only play sports if you know you're going to want to stick with it all the way and have a shot at going pro. On the contrary...I think you should play sports, as well as participate in any hobby or activity, as long as you're getting out of it at least as much as you're putting in, and it's enhancing, not hindering, the rest of your life. It's important to maintain the distance and objectivity to be able to step away from it when you cross that line.

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