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Big-League Reality

Quick question: Should I feel guilty for not wanting to push my kids toward all-star statuses in select sports?

If you look at my track record, it would seem I would have turned out to be that dad. After all, when it comes to sports, there’s no bigger junkie than me. I can recite every jersey number of the 1973 Dolphins or 1981 Dodgers without breaking a sweat. I’ve somehow figured out creative ways to make a decent living in the sports world in editing, writing and marketing. Not bragging or anything, but do you know anybody who’s been to the Masters, four Super Bowls, every league’s all-star games and a BCS bowl and got paid to do it? (OK, I guess I’m bragging just a bit.)

So, yeah, I dig sports. And I’m always fired up helping my daughter work on ground balls and jump shots and pitching batting practice to my boy. I would seem destined to be the next (fill in your favorite overbearing, overreactionary, overzealous and over-the-top pop here). But I’m just not feeling it. I just can’t seem to channel my inner Marv Marinovich or Richard Williams. For those who don’t know these two gentlemen, please Google either one and get ready to marvel at their parenting skills. But the collateral damage just doesn’t seem worth it. At least not for this dad.

Of course, maybe everything will change if my daughter starts showing glimpses of Jenny Finch or my boy starts clobbering fastballs like Joe Mauer. Maybe I’ll catch the fever and start hiring Navy SEAL instructors and NASA scientists to help develop my future stars. Maybe I’ll start screaming at my kids’ youth coaches about playing time and threatening the lives of 15-year-old umpires because of tight strike zones.

Just don’t count on it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I really don’t think most Select kids have dads who would give Andre Agassi’s nightmarish poppy a run for his money. Those nutty dads are the exception—thank goodness—versus the rule. But isn’t being a dad already stressful enough? I mean, we have so much of the same stuff to worry about—layoffs, college savings accounts, weddings, first cars, first boyfriends, layoffs—that adding to that stress sandwich just never sounded appealing. There’s just so much time and money spent trekking alongside the U-12 travel club or the All-Star Super Selects that I’m not quite sure I’m equipped for the challenge. Or if I even want to be. If all that time and money doesn’t result in a four-year ride to a prominent college, can you demand a refund? Uh, didn’t think so.

Hey, I’m the first to admit, I understand the rush of watching your son or daughter score a goal or hit one in the gap. There’s nothing like it. But I just wish everyone would calm down a bit. The other day, a friend of ours was explaining their typical weekend, which actually started Friday night with practice (the fourth of the week) and included an all-day Select tournament on Saturday (8 a.m. first pitch to around 10:30 p.m. that night) and then pitching practice on Sunday to start the ensuing week.

Seriously, this cannot be classified as either fun or fulfilling—can it? I know you love your kids, but you worked all week for this—a weekend of driving, sitting on wooden bleachers and eating at Chick-fil-A?

Yeah, yeah, all you hardcore dads are saying I’m a slacker and my kids are destined to get cut from their junior varsity teams. We’ll see about that. Anyway, did you know Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team?