30 second time outs

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Love Of The Game

I took special interest in a piece on ESPN's Outside the Lines profiling Elena Delle Donne, the outstanding female basketball prodigy that gave up her basketball scholarship at UConn and returned home because she no longer "had the passion" for the sport. It reminds me of the tattoo that Paul Pierce, of the Boston Celtics has that depicts a basketball with a knife plunging through it that says, "My Gift-My Curse". I sometimes find myself describing players as being "cursed with ability". Too often we have players who happen to be blessed with some physical gifts, but don't have the passion that Delle Donne speaks of. Many times these players appear to be cheating their teammates because of lack of effort on the part of a talented "star", when in reality they may be cheating themselves by continuing to play a game they don't enjoy enough to invest the time to try to and achieve their potential. For that reason we may applaud Delle Donna for being true to herself and not cheating any teammates with a less than committed effort.

Take a look at this feature.

Take a look at this complete interview with Elena.

Interesting that she mentions age 13 as when she felt it was no longer fun. There must be something about that age? If she wasn't GREAT at her sport, she may have been part of the statistic reported by a Michigan State University study that over 70% of kids quit sports by age 13. For professional sports, that is the equivalent of losing one potential Michael Jordan or LeBron James a week. In addition, there is no way of knowing the impact on potential future business leaders and other professions where continued sports participation helps develop critical life skills to succeed in those fields. Is it a quantum leap to think this dropout rate effects society as a whole?

Few departures are as publicized as Elena's decision, but there certainly have been some, and it's a little shocking that we don't hear of more. She chose not to stop playing because she "didn't want to show any weakness to anybody." She "drove the bus" , she asked for help, she said she wanted to work out, she wanted to play. She viewed the game as work, and was always trying to please herself. Not so much her parents or coaches... at that time. However, what we need to be careful of, as parents, is to avoid creating that expectation at an early age and developing those feelings in our children that they need to be perfect and always working. Sometimes it is our job to put on the brakes and force them to take some time off... even if they say they don't want to.

We need to be smart enough to know that the NEED to.

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