In Defense Of The Dream
It feels like sports parents are under attack from every corner these days. “Your kid isn’t going pro!” is the common refrain used to shame any parent who dares to make youth sports a priority in their lives. I get it. To many, the time and money invested in youth sports can seem crazy. What so many fail to understand is that most of us aren’t investing in sports. We are investing in dreams.
Every kid is different and their dreams are just as varied. Maybe the dream is to graduate with a 4.0. Or to earn a black belt. Or to play Chopin. Or to speak Hindi. Or to win a spelling bee. None of those dreams are achieved without sacrifices of time, or money, or both.
I have friends with kids who dreamed of the Olympics and of acceptance to Yale. Neither of them quite made it. But one ended up a World Champion and arguably the greatest college gymnast of all time and the other graduated from Brown. Not too shabby. Amazing things happen when we reach for the stars.
I have friends with kids who dreamed of graduating from high school, joining the armed forces, or of playing ball for their home team. I have a friend whose dream was to watch his child take a deep breath without struggle, and another who simply wanted to hear hers say “mama”. Blessedly, all of those dreams actually came true…so much more important than any achievement in sports.
Whatever the dream, we dream with them. Even when we know the dream is impossible. Still, we support them as much as we are able. We create opportunities where we can. We remind them of all the lessons to be learned along the way. We are there to support them when things go sideways. And perhaps most importantly, we teach gratefulness for the blessings we do have.
The reality is that at some point, every athlete peaks. Every single one. Part of what makes sports an incredible journey is you never know when it is going to happen. Some hyper-dominant youth players inexplicably plateau early. Some undersized bench players grind it out only to emerge as formidable years later. Most coaches can’t predict this. Virtually no parents can. So we carpool. We spend our weekends at sportsplexes. We miss family dinners. We miss a lot of things. We write checks. So many checks! We show up. Practice. Games. Clinics. They win. They lose. They learn. They grow. We cheer…and yes sometimes we cry. And beneath it all…we dream.
Our reach should exceed our grasp…in sports as in life. Not fully achieving your goals in no way diminishes the journey. This is the lesson to set before our youth players. Enjoy the chase. Dream the dream. Work, improve, and learn everything you can along the way because no matter how far your sport takes you, someday you will need to find another path, another dream.
– Not That Dad