My fellow Americans, we live in what should be the most celebrated time in sports history. Our athletes are bigger, faster, stronger and performing the most incredible feats ever achieved by humanity.
Lebron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, Antonio Brown, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, and Shakyla Hill among others are redefining what athletic excellence really means.
America’s athletes reflect her greatest strength: diversity. We produce the world’s greatest athletes because our country contains the world’s best attributes. Because we are a melting pot of cultures, body structures and abilities, the same country that produced Tom Brady also produced Simone Biles.
Brady is 6-4 and of Irish descent. Biles is 4-8 and African-American. Brady has won five Super Bowls as a member of the New England Patriots. Biles won four Olympic gold medals as a member of the FInal Five USA Women’s Gymnastics Team.
Stanton and Judge have hit home runs NASA is still tracking in space. Antonio Brown, the NFL’s best wide receiver, simply can’t be covered. Some refs don’t bother throwing flags when defensive backs interfere with him because he catches the ball anyway.
Steph Curry makes the 3-point shot look like a layup. And what is there to say about LeBron James that hasn’t already been said? The most gifted athlete of our time also gives as much as he gets. Even more that the championship teams he’s been a part of and the individual awards he’s won, James says his greatest accomplishment is the school he’s building in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
LeBron James knows his greatness lies not in his dunking ability, but using what sports have given him to help the next generation. A student in his school may one day cure cancer, AIDS, help temper the effects of climate change or end world hunger.
Remember, I said this should be the most celebrated time in sports, but it’s not. We’re too angry, jaded and bitter. If our kids don’t star on the team, we want to fight the coach. If the ref doesn’t make the calls for our team we want, we’ll fight them too.
That’s not hyperbole. Assaults against sports officials and coaches are up considerably in recent years. Some parents don’t want anyone correcting their kids. If a coach doesn’t shower their son or daughter with the praise heaped on a king or queen, the parent may pull the kid from the team.
Kids pick up on the animus we have toward other adults. If we don’t respect the coach, why should they? The kid disrespects the coach and the coach doesn’t tell the parent because there’s no support at home. It’s a vicious cycle ending in fewer people enjoying and benefitting from all the positive things sports have to offer.
I challenge every American to wait a minute before taking regrettable actions.
Before you let that four-or-eight-letter word leave your mouth during the game, consider your son or daughter sitting next to you. Before you call the ref that infamous 12-letter word, I implore you to do the same. If/when your child picks up profanity, it won’t be from their favorite rapper. It will be from you.
Is a blown call worth you getting arrested? Wait a minute and think about what you’re going to tell the judge. “Your Honor, the ref cheated us!” If you don’t calm down, I guess the prison basketball team could always use another point guard.
Wait a minute before you yell at the TV during this weekend’s big game. First, it looks crazy. Your team can’t hear you anyway. Yelling at the refs on TV also serves as a sort of dry run for how you’ll treat refs in real-life.
Wait a minute before you pull your kid from the team. If someone is truly mistreating your child, then you must get them away from the negative environment. However, if your conversation with the coach revolves around how much “shine” your kid gets compared to the others, please do us all a favor and have the most comfortable seat you can find.
Referees and coaches are not perfect. They make mistakes, but the overwhelming majority are not malicious figures who wish our kids harm. Wait a minute, take a deep breath and check your behavior.
The state of American sports is strong, but our union need a little work. Sports are meant to be celebrated and enjoyed by all. Respect each other and enjoy all that sports have to offer.
God bless each and every one of you and God bless the United States of America.
- Book Musial Moments for your school or youth organization.
- Register for the Coach It Right! Baseball Clinic on March 3.
- Apply for the 2018 Carl Fricks Sportsmanship Scholarship.
- Join the Good Sport Club and more at sportsmanship.org.