Back in July, I wrote about why I thought Major League Baseball was the healthiest of the four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. I stand by what I said, and now I’m debating the health of all four leagues with Russell Scibetti over on The Business of Sports. We took on baseball first and will be moving to the NBA next. Stop by and get involved in the debate!
Archive for November 2010
Even if you’re not in Atlanta, or can’t attend Dinner with Champions, you can still help support L.E.A.D. by bidding in the online auction! The highest bid online will be the starting bid at the silent auction at Dinner with Champions next weekend.
There are some great autographed items from Jason Heyward (Braves), Freddie Freeman (Braves), Dexter Fowler (Rockies) and Bobby Scales (Cubs). I also want to give a huge THANK YOU to B.B. Abbott for sending me an autographed Chipper Jones jersey for the auction! For those who don’t know, B.B. is Chipper’s agent (also McCann’s) and runs the fabulous Jet Sports Management. He’s been a great friend to me, and L.E.A.D. and I really appreciate his (and Chipper’s) donation to the auction!
The great items don’t end there. I’m definitely thinking about bidding on the signed baseball from the legendary Bobby Cox. There’s also a really great experience package: an hour with Clemson QB (and Rockies signee) Kyle Parker working on QB techniques and hitting.
Head on over to the online auction and get your bid in!
Over the past eighteen months, I have been blessed to be a part of an organization called L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct). This group provides travel team level play to inner-city youth who would otherwise be unable to compete at an advanced level in baseball. Scholarship and community service are emphasized, with 100% of the participants during L.E.A.D.’s two years being accepted to college and over 2,000 hours of community service being performed. Since being formed in 2008, 83% of the participants in the program have gone on to earn college scholarships to play baseball while pursuing higher education.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can see the piece I wrote for Comcast Sports Southeast on the decline of African Americans in Major League Baseball and what L.E.A.D. is doing to provide opportunities for young men right here in Atlanta: http://www.csssports.com/pages/misssportsbiz.
Every year, L.E.A.D. has a weekend full of events in order to raise funds for the upcoming season. The biggest draw is the Celebrity Clinic, which is held at Turner Field. It’s for ages 8-13 and offers your child the opportunity to work with current MLB players Jason Heyward (Braves), Tim Hudson (Braves), Dexter Fowler (Rockies) and Bobby Scales (Cubs). There are also a number of minor league players who help put on the clinic. It’s an amazing experience to work with the pros and spend a day on the field at Turner Field. I went last year and walked around in awe the entire time – it’s an incredible experience.
If you have a child 8-13 and are interested in a spot in the clinic, you can find out more here: https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/lead/event.jsp?event=41.
The other big event of the weekend is Dinner with Champions at the 755 Club at Turner Field. The Master of Ceremonies this year will be 680 The Fan’s Chuck Dowdle and the speaker will be former MLB and NFL player Brian Jordan. There will be a silent auction with dozens of autographed items from current MLB players, as well as some really unique experiences. For example, current Clemson QB Kyle Parker has a QB lesson and a hitting lesson in the silent auction.
If you’re interested in Dinner with Champions, you can find out more here: https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/lead/event.jsp?event=118.
This is a truly remarkable group. I hope some of you are able to sign up your kids for the clinic or join me at the dinner!
After a discussion with a friend who didn’t grow up playing sports, I realized how much sports shaped who I am today. I honestly believe I wouldn’t be the same person if I hadn’t played sports, although that’s not to say that children can’t learn these lessons elsewhere. However, if you’re debating whether your child should get involved in sports, here are six life skills I can trace back to my involvement with sports. Obviously, I could name dozens, but these are some big ones.
They’re in no particular order because I believe they’re all equally important:
- Time Management. This is one of the first skills that comes to mind. I was a sophomore in college when I realized that my constant involvement in sports had taught me time management skills. I found myself with nothing to do except classes, and suddenly my school work was suffering. Since then, I’ve learned that I am far more productive when I have a full schedule, which I’m sure comes from years of squeezing in dance lessons, softball practice (or whatever other sport I was playing at the moment), work and school. When I know I only have an hour window to accomplish something, I get it done. When I know I have all day to finish that same one-hour task, I procrastinate and struggle to complete it.
- Teamwork. This one is an obvious one. Even sports that are individual in nature are usually team sports in competition, such as tennis or gymnastics where you end up competing as a team. I played softball for twenty-two years, tennis off and on for about five years, cheerleading for three years, dance team for one year (although I took classes for years and still do), and basketball for one year. No matter the sport, the moral of the story is the same: great things can be accomplished through teamwork. We each have different strengths, which is why we can sometimes best accomplish things as a team. Sports taught me to celebrate the talent’s of otherwise, recognize my own strengths and weaknesses, and how to put my own ego aside in order to produce the best result. Being able to work in a team environment obviously helps in the business world, but it also helps in every relationship you’ll have in life. I’m not married, and I don’t have children, but I would imagine teamwork is a vital part of having a healthy, happy family life.
- Reliability. This goes along with teamwork. I think an important skill I learned from sports was that those around me depend on me – to be on time, to do my part of a group project, to do the research necessary before writing a blog piece or drafting a document, etc. My life does not exist in a vacuum. At no point in my life was this more obvious to me than when I was a pitcher playing fastpitch softball growing up. I loved the pressure and the responsibility of being such an integral part of the game (not that every position isn’t important).
- Sportsmanship. This one is huge. I can’t even begin to tell you about all the people I’ve met in my adult life who never learned how to lose. They’re immature, irrational and generally unpleasant people. They’re also not happy. No one has everything go their way in life, so someone who hasn’t learned how to encounter defeat and adversity with grace has a tough road ahead of them. They have to win every argument, they don’t respect other’s opinions because they think they’re always right, and they fall apart when things don’t go their way. They don’t handle stress well, and sometimes it leads them to act out in drastic ways. I can’t stress enough how important it is for kids to learn to deal with adversity.
- Responsibility. In the end, a lot of these play off each other and are integrally tied, but I think sports played as much a part in making me a responsible adult as my parents did. I learned to take responsibility for my actions. If I skipped practice and then booted a routine grounder in the next game, that was on me. Or even better, if I stayed out all night with my boyfriend on Friday night and then was too tired to throw a strike the next day, I had to live with my decision and the consequences of my actions. I learned that teammates and coaches depended on me, from counting on me to make key plays to representing our team/school well when I was off the field. I learned the importance of things like being on time, practicing, being prepared (bringing the right equipment, etc.), and that whether it’s the school name on your jersey or the company name on your business card, your actions reflect on others with whom you’re associated.
- Confidence. This is the big one. In fact, I think I have a whole separate blog post in me about confidence, especially as relates to young girls. For now though, I’ll just say that I think a huge reason I never had what I would consider self-esteem issues was through my involvement with sports. There was the year not enough girls signed up for basketball and I ended up on an all-boys team. I learned girls really can do anything boys can do (well, almost). Was I as good as they were? Not even close. But, I was able to keep up with them all season and got playing time, and I felt great about myself. It was softball though that really shaped me growing up. It was the sport where I excelled, and where I felt best about myself. I dedicated myself to pitching lessons and practicing in the backyard every day, and it paid off. I went out and gave my team a chance to win nearly every game, and that felt great. My teammates depended on me, and most of the time I could say I gave it my very best, even if we didn’t win. But, perhaps most importantly, I felt great about myself when I played softball. It didn’t matter if my boyfriend had just broken up with me or mean girls at school had whispered about me behind my back, I always had softball. I could walk out onto the field and it was all that mattered. I felt important and special when I stepped onto that mound to pitch and my teammates always had my back. Aside from other hobbies like music, art and drama, just to name a few, I’m not sure where else you get those feelings during those important adolescent and teenage years.
I shudder to think how I might have turned out if I’d never had sports in my life.
What did you get out of sports?