In the world of sports we have become obsessed with those that hoist trophies, win scoring titles and are the face of the latest Nike or Under Armour commercial. However, I have learned that there is a class of athlete that will most likely go virtually unnoticed, unrecognized and at times even ostracized. For the sake of confidentiality I will not name the athlete(s) that I am basing this article on, but the inspiration for this article comes from an actual series of true stories.
I am writing to give these athletes respect and a voice.
The season begins with all of the excitement that comes with a new beginning. The off-season training, which requires significant sacrifice, hard work, and focus is now in the books and coaches speak of an “equal playing field” to compete for playing time. Coaches say things like: “IF you work hard you will be given an opportunity to contribute.” Optimism is high because the hard work has resulted in a stronger, more explosive body as well as, a set of refined skills. However, what will transpire over the following months is nothing less then devastating!!
The season begins and over time the favoritism becomes obvious as the pecking order is already well established. Entitlement and privilege under girds the environment while players without scholarships, draft status or a powerful enough network are given messages that if evaluated outside of the sport would be nothing short of abusive. Many coaches send verbal and non-verbal messages that show very little respect for the heart, soul and mind of these athletes that have given their all in pursuit of their dream.
Yet these UNSUNG HEROES continue to pursue their dream with vigilance, passion, focus, and belief without even a taste of humanity from the coaches that espouse being in the sport to develop young people, a community of connection and long-term skills for success.
What keeps these athletes going?
These are UNSUNG HEROES!!! I cannot think of anything that is more WORTHY of our respect and honor than recognizing the many young men and women that have the courage to pursue their dream with this kind of vigilance and courage.
This is what champions of LIFE are made of!
To those that fit the criteria listed in this article I say, “You are worthy of the highest of awards. THE UNSUNG HERO award. I hope each of you has a person highlighting these amazing qualities in you and honoring you for the character and determination that is nothing short of amazing!!! My everlasting respect goes with you!!”
The world of sports is filled with great mentors and coaches.
However, if you are a coach that is treating those you are privileged to coach with anything less than the respect you would give to your own children, then please get out of the sport!!!
We owe it to those that are giving their all to apply the best practices of coaching in their pursuit and ours.