A lot of the stories I've been reading about athletes have began with struggle. They grew up rough and sports was the only way out or they stayed after school for practice because home was too much to face... While I empathize with them, I can't relate. I didn't have a bad childhood, I had both parents in my life, I always had what I needed for school and basketball, and I had excellent extended family support. Basketball was one of the reasons my childhood was so great. It allowed me to travel, make friends, and challenge myself physically. It was one of the first things I was really good at. I also had church activities like drill team, Bible memory challenges, and speech competitions ( I think I only did it twice though). Through all these experiences I was forming my worldview and shaping my personality.
Why should you care about any of this?
You should care because every athlete starts off having other interests besides their sport. They have hidden talents and dreams that they might not have shared with anyone. I was asked to speak with a young lady that wants to play ball at HU. I asked my friend what was the young lady like. I said "tell me about her"... he immediately starts rambling off her stats and how she needs lo lose 20 pounds and this/that/the other. I stopped him and asked "WHAT IS THE YOUNG LADY LIKE"! I wanted to know what kind of person she is and what she likes doing besides basketball. I think those things are important because the career of sports is unpredictable. There is no lack of support for the development of sports specific skills, but from a personal standpoint, few people are checking for that.
Sidebar: I was watching YouTube videos (because sometimes you wanna just watch Last Week Tonight) and an ad came up about the Ben Simmons documentary One and done. It's about a kid who moved from Australia so he could go from high school to the N.B.A. It led me to this article in the New York Times where Ben was saying that college was a "waste of time" because he knew he was going to the league the year after. Apparently this is a "thing", kids going to college for one year to meet the requirement to go to the NBA. I didn't know that it had a name, but it is literally called one and done lol. There are college coaches and administration that know this and just let those players do whatever they want ( research has me baffled). ALSO!!! here ESPN reports that he's already had injuries before even playing one regular season game. The documentary airs Sunday, but I'm sure there are going to be a whole lot of kids watching thinking aww shyt! Ben did it so I'm gonna do it too. Ben's dad played pro ball so money isn't the issue (from the trailer of the doc), but still... I'm trying not to be a hater right now, but he said he knew he wanted to play in the NBA since he was 8. He also skipped classes regularly because he figured it didn't matter. His parents seem to be on board with that kind of thinking. I'm gonna tune in to watch, but I hope that everything works out for the young man.
I took you around the long way to say this... this is the wannabe story of millions of kids today and not all of them have a support system to help them if their dream isn't realized. Some of them lack the capacity to creatively solve problems. There are kids TODAY that made it to the league and never see the floor and yes they might have money (maybe), but they have spent zero time thinking about life after the game. If they begin early with these three questions:
Who are you?
What are you good at?
What/Who do you want to become?
No matter what path they choose, they can always come back to the core of themselves. In the beginning, I wrote about my childhood because every choice you make leaves clues. There are clues to why to started playing or continued playing sports. I didn't play sports to escape from reality. I didn't see it as my "way out". Looking back it wasn't just the love of the game that kept me playing. It's THOSE other reasons that are the clues to my core meanings. Whether sports was an escape or something different, thinking about way back when and answering these questions can give you a clue as to where to start focusing your energies. What is behind your "passion" for that sport?
Back to the young lady wanting to play for Howard...
My friend tells me that she wants to do Sports Marketing and culinary school. GREAT! Here is where a parent or professional can interject some Personal Development. At this stage in life you may or may not have an idea what you want to do which is fine, but it's not the specific position that is most important. The process in decision making is important here. Why does she want to do Sports Marketing and why culinary school? I'll have to get back to you on the answers to those after I talk with her, but if she starts down that path and decides she doesn't like it she has a blueprint to start fresh.
She knows who she is...
She knows what she is good at...
She knows what/who she wants to become...
She is not stuck in those roles she picked because there are other ways to manifest the blueprint she created for herself. As she gets older priorities will shift, but no one said you could only do this exercise once. She's got the process now which she can use over and over.