Dear Athletic Support: My son started playing baseball when he was five years old. I can still remember him in the backyard with his little ball and. With school currently closed, he fears his senior baseball season isn’t going to happen. Is there anything he can do to make sure he’s ready when/if school comes back in session and his final baseball season resumes? — Hopeful Dad
Dear Hopeful: Across the country, high school athletes are staring down the barrel of possible season cancelations. I can’t imagine how scary this must be. All the years of hard work, all the extra practices and time invested — for what?
That answer isn’t simple (nothing is simple right now). But the best way I can think to explain this is through a story. When I was growing up, everything was a competition, my whole life a game.
My dad always played the role of a coach. As far back as I can remember he was all the time coming up with ways to make boring, daily rituals like brushing my teeth into exciting contests. One time he told me if I ate a banana, he’d buy me a pair of rollerblades. I hated bananas (I still do), but I got those rollerblades.
The prizes for my dad’s games weren’t always so extravagant. Mostly, he’d keep my reward a secret, telling me I was in for a “big surprise” as soon as I brushed my teeth, or combed my hair, or threw three perfect strikes in a row, painting the corners and checking the imaginary runner on second base.
Dad’s big surprise, as it turns out, was simply the satisfaction of winning, the joy that can be found in a job well done. Was it a letdown? Kinda. Especially at such a young age, but there’s a lesson to be learned here, one that applies to your son’s senior baseball season.
Early on, we’re taught that results are what matter most. The trophies. The accolades. The wins and the losses. When in actuality, it’s the process that’s most important. The long hours spent perfecting a change up, or studying film — that’s where athletes learn the true value of sport.
In the end, it’s not whether you win or lose — or in this case — if you even get to play the games. What matters most is learning both to enjoy the process and acquire an understanding of the true value of hard work.
So, yes, your son should go out and keep practicing. He should continue to prepare for his senior season (just make sure he’s adhering to our country’s new “social distancing” guidelines). In the end, even if his final season does get canceled, he can still find joy in a job well done, and that’s a lesson he’ll be able to carry with him long after his playing days are over.