Friday night plight: Struggling in a sport? No one cares once high school ends

It’s Friday, which typically means high schools here in Texas and in Ohio, where I grew up, have football games this evening. The games aren’t for everyone, but they can be fun to watch, especially if you know a player.

They most certainly are not fun, though, if you are watching from the sidelines.

By now teams have figured out who’s playing and who isn’t, and if you’re part of the “isn’t” group, it feels about like accidentally leaving your keys in the ignition of a running car. I was in that group. I watched from the sidelines. A lot.

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Here I am as a tight end (on the right), trying (poorly) to block someone.

I played in garbage time and had a few memorable moments, but despite working hard, I just wasn’t the greatest football player. It happens. I’d like to think if I had another chance, I’d be better—but who knows?

Furthermore, who cares? I doubt many grown-ups I know do.

It may seem like a crisis to be bad at football—or soccer or whatever it is you play—and I think it’s good to acknowledge those feelings. But even the best players on your team might not even play in college, and it’s a rarity at best if anyone makes it to the NFL. In other words, once high school ends, people (hopefully) move on with life. No one will remember exactly how good you were at sports, and if they do, who gives a damn?

What people will likely remember about you, however, is how you treated them. Were you kind to people? Did you accept your fellow students for who they were? Did you help someone in a moment of need or in an embarrassing situation? That’s something I could have been better about at times. I’m sure we all could have.

And if you’re one of the kids who excels at sports, when you get a chance, help your less talented teammates. Take a few minutes after practice and include them in some drills or even some conversation. A couple teammates did that for me when I was in school, and it made me feel like I was still a part of the team and important.

One more thing: Even if you’re the team tackling dummy, don’t quit. Finish the season, and then figure out what you want. If you finish what you start, it’s a lot harder to have regrets. And regrets are something you’ll likely remember, even if no one else does.


If you’re bored enough to have made it this far, read more about my high school football days:
I was a 3rd-string quarterback, Part 1
I was a 3rd-string quarterback, Part 2

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