EDITOR’S NOTE: I thought it would be interesting to reflect on some old columns. This one was published Dec. 5, 2004 in the South Arkansas Sunday News.
If I had three words of advice for any young athlete who feels he or she is getting the short end of the stick, it would be “hang in there.”
When I say young, I’m talking about maybe a 7th or 8th grader who was the “superstar” at his local Boys & Girls Club the year before.
He or she was “the one” on a team got plenty of playing time.
Reality sets in for these youngsters after they make their junior high teams and find their playing time reduced to almost nothing zero time.
It’s understandable that one word that may enter their minds would be “quit.”
I’ll say something about quitting in a moment.
These young athletes quickly become discouraged and feel coaches are not treating them fairly.
Like I said, just “hang in there” and expect something good to happen.
Continue working hard, improve your game and your coach will notice you.
I was listening to a sports radio talk show the other day and a caller gave some good advice to a high school football player who planned to walk on to a college football team.
The caller said, “Sure, he’s a talented player and is disappointed no one really recruited him.
But that kid ought to go ahead, walk on where he wants to and prove to coaches what kind of player he is. They won’t keep him on the bench just because he’s a walk on.”
I certainly agree.
Some athletes have to work harder than others to be noticed.
For the younger ones, that attention may not come until later in high school.
But if you don’t “hang in there,” I can guarantee you won’t be noticed by the coaches.
Back to quitting.
As far as I’m concerned, quitting is never an option when things don’t go your way.
You may be the purest shooter on the court, but learn to adjust if a coach wants you to become a better passer, rebounder or defender.
Only God knows where many of us would be today if we had “quit” every time an obstacle in life got in the way.
But I have something for those who will argue the point and say quitting may be the only option for some athletes.
In some cases, quitting just may be the answer to the problem.
But I believe timing is key in everything.
If you’re going to quit, plan it out first. Don’t jump off the bus while it’s still moving.
Let’s say you decide to swim across a pond, get half way, stop and decided to quit.
But can you really quit right there and not complete the task?
Of course not.
You have to swim on across and make a decision afterward as to whether you’ll do it again.
Unless there’s a justifiable reason, I don’t believe in quitting once you’ve started something.
If you start, finish it.
Quitting after a season starts shouldn’t be an option.
To me, that a coward’s way out.
Continue to work, maintain a team spirit attitude, finish the year and then make your decision about next season.
If you decide basketball or any sport is not for you, don’t try out the next season.
I’ve also learned coaches don’t normally give a second chance to quitters.
You can’t be depended on once you quit.
Who knows, a coach may think you might pull a Scottie Pippen and quit with a few seconds to play in the game.
Yeah, there have been players who have refused to enter a game when asked by the coach.
No one wants to be like that player.