Friday, March 30, 2012

Youth Sports Post: Character Building

Another day, another soccer game. Isaiah's JV team took the field Thursday against a formidable opponent. The weather was also formidable. This is what had already passed north up the valley.

And this is what was still rolling up on us from the south at game time.

It rained and it blew and it was cold.

Worse, Isaiah and his team got schooled. I lost track of the goals the other team scored, but it was at least five or six. Maybe six or seven. Our team only had two shots-on-goal. Isaiah managed to get one of those. It was a real test of their character to keep trying long after it had become a lost cause. But that's exactly what they did.

It strikes me that when you're young you don't have that "life is short" pragmatism that comes with age and experience. You still have lots to prove, to others, and to yourself. I remember going out for track when I was Isaiah's age. There were long, grueling practices in March when we just ran, for miles. I hated it. But I didn't quit.

I'm at the age now, though, that I do have that "life is short" pragmatism, and I make choices all the time about what I do based on whether it seems like a waste of time or not. I confess that on Thursday, shivering on the sideline, it passed through my mind that I had already gotten some shots of Isaiah, and that chances were good that he wouldn't score a goal or be a hero, so I could probably go on home, get warm, and get back to some things I needed to do.

Yes, I have that pragmatism. But I also have a son. And I am a son. I remembered, and I knew what I really needed to do. I, too, still have some things to prove, and some people to prove them to. So, like Isaiah, I stayed to the bitter end.

It was easy for me, compared to what he and the team went through. I don't expect him to thank me for it. I doubt he even notices anymore that his parents are always there. But I'm sure he would have noticed if I had left. And I think I know how he would have felt about it.

Sometimes a kid needs an example in all that character building, whether he knows it at the time or not. And sometimes, when you are privileged to be that example, you find that your character needed a little building up, too.


  1. Great post. In so many ways. For me, a gentle a reminder about a lot of things. I said it before when you were taking the boys to all the AAU practices...your a good man. Very interesting thoughts on "life is short". Thank you very much for this one.

  2. Thank you for your comment. We try, as you well know, and end up amazed at how well our kids turn out.