In anyone’s career there are times when the direction chosen years before is questioned. Often those doubts are triggered by set backs or unpleasant situations. Maybe one’s skill level is not properly recognized or someone with more B.S. gets a plum job that was desired. Or maybe those thoughts are triggered by doubts of the real importance of what one is doing.
For those who follow or work in the sports world tragedies like what happened in Connecticut on Friday serve to emphasize what we do is so trivial. Whether we are players, coaches, managers, announcers or writers the things we deal with day to day are so unimportant in the big picture. Does debate over who is the best running back or shortstop really matter? Why doesn’t someone come up with stats that rank how well our government leaders do their jobs instead of coming up with new numbers for baseball players? An objective look at the people we SHOULD be watching closely would be far more important. There are a lot more important things than sports.
That thought by sports people and fans is rarely permanent. But it is what caused Pat Tillman to drop out of the NFL and join the military. During World War II it was why countless professional athletes like Bob Feller, Ted Williams and others let their careers go on hold voluntarily to be part of a bigger and more important calling. It is why others have ended their careers early to spend more time with their families or to move into their post playing careers. Alas, those numbers nowadays are small. The lure of sport is too great.
It shouldn’t be but many of us get trapped. We have success, make some money and trade time at home with families for careers that are not family oriented. We rationalize that the time missed during the season is made up in the off season when we are home much more. But it never really is.
Personally, I still have regrets about the one season I worked as the radio play by play man for Indiana Pacers while leaving my wife and son in Houston. My son was about eleven years old. His father should not have been an absentee for most of the six month season. I see pictures taken during that season and realize what I missed.
My work with the Texas Rangers was not so bad. I was still living in Houston, but working with HSE we were telecasting mostly home games. When the Rangers left Arlington I came back to Houston. I never really hit the baseball road full time until working with the Astros on Prime and Fox Sports. By then my son was an adult and living in Austin. No one at home but my wife. Most of that time she was working and keeping busy. And we did make up for some of the absences with several post season European vacations together.
There were many times when I wondered about choice of profession. Don’t get me wrong I loved the NBA when I was working in it for the Spurs, Rockets and Pacers and I love baseball. But there are times…and today is one of them when it just doesn’t seem it was that important.
My son is 38 years old now and a successful Pharm D. in Austin. But when I heard and saw the news about what happened in Connecticut I remembered him as a young boy whose father was not home much one basketball season. If something would have ever happened to him when I was out of town on a sports trip that would have ended my career right then.
Don’t try to put yourself in the shoes of the parents who lost children at the school. You can’t do it. Just remember your children and family are the most important thing. Sports is just not that important. Friday was just another example.