Sports are my life. Well, it's fair to say that a lot of my life has been consumed by athletics. I was a three-sport athlete in high school and went on to play college baseball. This was family life as well. My mom and dad met when he coached her fast pitch softball team. My sister played college softball. And the coaching gene passed on to me. I’ve coached high school baseball for 9 years and football for 5. In the McDaniel family sports = life. Did I mention our family obsession with Nebraska football? I can’t go there. I need to move on.
In a culture obsessed with sports it’s easy to get caught up in the madness. I saw this piece the other day at Youth Culture Report in response to a Texas school district that has decided to boost academics by “banning sports.”
What is your reaction to this announcement? What impact will this truly have on the youth of this school district?
Let me be clear. My own participation in sports has been mostly positive. As a coach, I’ve felt my ability to influence young men in the areas of character, integrity, commitment, teamwork, and leadership. As an athlete I learned these things through the ups and downs of competition.
But I’ve seen and experienced some, well, pretty messed up things as an athlete and coach. I’ve seen kids get belittled, broken, and used by coaches. I’ve seen kids and families throw A LOT of money, time, and energy away to chase the dream of scholarships and stardom. And I’ve been one of those kids.
I have hindsight on my side. I’ve chased the dreams. I’ve seen athletics for what they are at their best: Education, character formation, and entertainment, and their worst: Proud, arrogant, manipulative.
I don't know why this thought just came to my mind, but you know what, no one really cares what my batting average was in high school and college. No one really cares about the great high school football and baseball teams I was a part of. At the time all that seemed VERY important. That was my identity. Stats. Numbers. Playing time. Stardom. But for some reason, no one cares today. And for some reason, for some weird reason, it bothers me that no one cares what Chad McDaniel did on the baseball field in 1999. Why do I care? Why should anyone else care?
I hope to provoke some discussion on our culture’s obsession with sports. I hope to provoke some thought on my own participation in a culture obsessed with sports.
But what about you? What is your experience? What do you see?
there's more to come…trust me, i'm going somewhere with this...at least i think i am...