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Yes, I really do mean what is in this column

June 21, 2010

I was stopped the other day and asked about last week's column.

A mom wanted to know if I really meant what I said.

"I always mean what I say," I answered.

"But, summer is about family because we don't get to spend a lot of time together during the school year because of school and work and sports," she said.

"We are all busy," I said.

"Well, if my son does this with this team and that with that team, he's barely home," she said.

I understood what she was saying.

My answer was simple: "Keep your kids out of sports and this is not an issue."

"I can't do that."

Then, choices have to be made.

Look, parents, summer and sports aren't even close to what they were when we were that age.

I played in every passing league and summer basketball game, but we never lifted weights. It was not a requirement, or even laughingly suggested.

It wasn't a priority then.

Weightlifting is a priority now.

As is summer baseball and summer basketball and summer this and summer that.

Why is this summer accountability a priority?

For the future.

Because it teaches our kids a lot of things that will apply to everyday life when they are in the collegiate world and have to figure things out on their own.

It teaches kids about time management, about sleep patterns, about a commitment, about accountability, about teammates, about something bigger than them, about being leaders.

It teaches kids about life.

It teaches kids that excuses are not an option.

It teaches kids that there is a price to be paid somewhere down the line when they do not go to open gyms, or car washes, or team camps, or passing scrimmages, or weightlifting, or a team cookout, or various other things that involve other people.

Because, pretty soon, our children are going to have to figure out how in the world they are going to get three term papers finished and turned in on the same Friday while their college professors want to hear no excuses why they aren't turned in.

They are going to have to figure out how to get the project done with four other people on five different schedules and the professor does not want to hear why it was being turned in late.

No excuses.

Sports does that for kids.

As does band.

As does the Key Club.

As does cheerleading.

As does various other activities during the high school years.

If your child will miss a team camp this summer, your child will be that much farther behind the two dozen other athletes who attended.

There will be a lot of trials and tribulations as you go through life - a sporting contest, a test, the ACT, a terrible audition, band practice, rehearsal and how you come back from it shows character.

That's what all this summer stuff is about.

Working hard is never easy, regardless of the situation.

Hard work does not guarantee success. It just gives you a better chance of it. It's not easy to push your body further than you ever thought it could go.

It's not easy to be a straight-A student. It's not easy to play your best and get beat.

The high school fall sports season begins soon.

How hard are you working?

Are you making your teammates better because of your work ethic?

Or, are you making excuses not to get things done?

St. Albans senior Samantha Snodgrass was throwing a no-hitter in the first softball game of the season in March and her coach asked her if he could get a freshman in the game to get her feet wet as a varsity pitcher.

"She said, 'Coach, I don't care.'"

Now, there's a leader, and one reason why she was named West Virginia's high school softball Player of the Year.

That's unselfishness. That's being a good teammate. That is putting others ahead of yourself.

"She's led by example," said her coach, Greg Garber. "She comes out and practices hard every day and doesn't get caught up in drama that some of them can. Just busts her tail and comes out with that attitude of trying to get better. The amazing thing about her, she's very unselfish."

OK, so a World Cup referee completely choked during the United States' match with Slovenia. He disallowed a goal which would have given the Americans a 3-2 win.

I saw the replay a dozen times and saw U.S. players being tackled in the box.

I'm still not sure how you officiate a game where players are being mauled in the box on a corner or a direct kick, yet the alleged best player in the world, Ronaldo, falls down after a puff of wind and rolls around like he was just snipered by Jason Bourne.

I am sick of watching the alleged best players in the world do their best Leonardo DiCaprio impression trying to win that little gold statue during each game.

Why can't soccer players just play the game and quit being 16-year-old drama queens?

I saw a player get grazed by a shoe on his elbow and fell to the ground holding his head like Jackie Chan had just given him a boot to the head.


Bottom line on the official, yes he choked. But, he wasn't the reason the Americans were down 2-0 at half and had to make that comeback.

Now, that is winning the U.S. Open by attrition.

But, it doesn't matter to Graeme McDowell. He is the U.S. Open champion and that's all that matters.

By the way, don't talk to me yet about Tiger being the best-ever. He has yet to come from behind in a major on the final 18 holes. He is 14-for-15 when leading after 54 holes, but 0-for-43 when behind.

Dude, make a run during Sunday when it counts.

By, the way, Dustin Johnson choked big time on Sunday with his 82.

But, if you've never choked, you've never been in the position to do so.

Every kid can work hard, in or out of the classroom, there is no talent in that.

Every kid can be a great teammate, there is no talent in that.

Every kid can give 100 percent, there is no talent in that.

Every kid can have a great attitude, there is no talent in that.

When you walk into a gym, or any athletic event, you get to do one of four things - play, coach, referee or be a fan.

Not all four, not three of four, not half of them - one.

Choose wisely, grasshopper.

A friend of mine sent me this and I thought it was rather good, so I am going to pass it along.

If you were coaching your own life, would you play anger, hate, fear, judgment and impatience as your starting five? Hopefully not.

How about the starting five of love, forgiveness, abundance, charity and appreciation?

Besides, they make for much better traveling partners between contests.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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