Patrick Sallee learned from his dad that there are far more important things than sports and far greater people to admire than athletes.
The recent news and events from the NFL have been discouraging. Not just because of the consistency of the same types of arrests and the complete failure of the league to address issues, but the overall fan reaction. It is sad and discouraging to see grown adults feel so much fandom for players that they ignore domestic violence or child abuse.
Growing up in Oklahoma I was a huge sports fan. Basketball and baseball were my life. I paid no attention to anything else. When I was very young my dad was a basketball coach, so sports was in the family. My parents never pushed me but always supported what I was doing: Basketball and baseball camps, playing on traveling teams, building a basketball court in our backyard…whatever could be done to support my passion for playing.
I remember distinctly that my dad was always a fan of sports in general, but never too into a specific team. He grew up a Yankees fan, and he continued to follow them, but I rarely found him watching sports, at least not without doing something else at the same time.
Maybe it was because Mickey Mantle was his favorite player, and as he got older he had learned about Mickey’s personal life. I’m not sure.
My dad was supportive of my love for Ryne Sandberg and Michael Jordan, but he was never overly positive about any one specific athlete.
I always knew he admired the guys that had a clean reputation and competed hard more than he did the superstars. This always stood out to me, but wasn’t until I was older I realized the example he was setting for me:
1. Greatness in athletics means exactly that. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Sports teach us a tremendous amount. They build character, discipline and determination. Being great at sports doesn’t give anyone a pass in life, to be an asshole in everything else.
Fans expect too much. It isn’t fair to assume being great in one area of life represents all areas. We need to lighten up and realize they are human, they have flaws. Cheer the on field greatness and find another outlet for admiration of life choices
2. We should be fans of everyday people.
Peyton Manning did a great MasterCard commercial a few years back celebrating the everyday person, high-fiving and cheering for accountants as they walked into work: “You’re my favorite accountant! Tommy, please. You’re on my fantasy team!” Great stuff!
I’m not suggesting we cheer for people in the same way, but we all know people that have tremendous qualities that we should admire and learn from. One of my good friends is the absolute best father I know, hands down. Sure, he is way too caught up in KC sports teams and the Missouri Tigers, but I let that slide and admire his commitment to his kids and being a great father.
3. Sporting events have very little impact on my life.
Until a sports team is paying my bills, the outcome of the event is relatively meaningless. I have enjoyed the playoff run of the Kansas City Royals. It has done a tremendous amount for this city and I don’t remember the last time I was excited about a sporting event as I have been recently with the World Series. But at the end of the day, life goes on and it is just a game.
A team losing a game isn’t going to make me lose sleep or ruin my day. There are far more important things in life.
As a society, we spend a lot of time, energy and money on sporting events and team apparel. It amazes me the power and influence we hand over to people that haven’t earned it. There are far more important things than sports and far greater people to admire than athletes.
It is time we fix our priorities.
(Photo Credit: Author)
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