Life Lessons in Sports

There is no greater teacher of life lessons than participation in team sports. No matter if you are young or old, male or female, sports offers something for everyone, and I am no exception. 

It feels as if my experiences playing baseball, football, basketball, and hockey have laid a foundation for virtually every situation that I have encountered in my adult life. The positive (and not so positive) events on the playing fields have provided me with valuable lessons on subjects such as teamwork, self-esteem, and speaking up for my beliefs. 

Sports offered me a chance to step out of a sheltered world and into an environment with many diverse individuals. My first experiences with Little League baseball came when I played on a team with kids from similar backgrounds as myself. Teamwork came easily because we played with each other in the neighborhood and it was an smooth transition into organized competition.

As I got older, however, I had to learn how to interact with teammates that had a different view of what sports were all about. I learned that some guys were less concerned about the team's success and more concerned about their own personal goals and statistics. This philosophy was in direct contrast to everything my dad and my youth coaches had taught me; as they always stressed the importance of team play. And so I felt a need to let those players know (sometimes loudly and emotionally) that we were not going to be successful if individual accomplishments were more important than team goals.

Because I was able to stand up for myself and my teammates without help from the coaches, I discovered a level of confidence and earned a newfound respect from my teammates who believed I was right to confront the "ball hogs" or "spoiled brats". 

Those lessons and experiences from team sports have had a lasting impact on how I view the world as an adult. I applaud unassuming intelligence, selflessness, introspection, teamwork, work ethic, being prepared, and basic old school friendliness. I abhor prejudice, egomania, bitterness, ignorance, apathy, and laziness. I see examples of all these traits every day in the business world, at home, or at school, and I always try to apply the positive values and concepts realized from participating in sports to lead me to a quality, successful, and happy existence.

World Gone Mad

I recently received a frantic email from a parent of a seven-year-old child, seeking to schedule a 60-minute private lesson to prepare his son for his travel team tryout this weekend. Here was my response:

Dear Mr. ________,

From a philosophical standpoint, I will need to decline your offer to work with your son. I believe that 7 years old is way too young to be taking a private lesson, and certainly way too young to be exposed to a tryout format of any kind. We at DNA have maintained a strong stance for several years now that travel sports for prepubescents is not developmentally appropriate and hence not healthy for kids. We also have an enormous amount of research and data that substantiates our belief.  It's the world we live in - I know - the perceived benefits of accelerating our student-athletes through travel sports and tryouts at the earliest of ages - but we will continue to hold firm to our philosophical opposition to what appears to be the norm.

That said, I would be more than willing to work with your son for 20-30 minutes at some point this fall or spring with you present, and provide you a few pointers and drills that may be FUN for the two of you to engage in together. But to do a private lesson prior to a tryout at the tender age of 7 - this is not something me or anyone else at DNA is comfortable with.

I hope you understand our position on this.

Thanks,

Andy Pohl
DNA Sports