The other day a dad confessed to me that his high school age son, who is a talented baseball pitcher with big dreams, has been showing his mother considerable impatience and disrespect. It reminded me of a comment I heard recently from a Division I college baseball recruiter who was speaking to parents and players at a clinic in Orlando. The essence of his message was this. There's a ton of talent out there from which college recruiters can choose great athletes. What's in shorter supply is talented players who demonstrate real genuine depth of character to go along with their athletic talent and skills.Â We're talking about the human skills of emotional maturity, communication savvy, respect for authority, and a true sense of personal responsibility. That's what is harder to find.
Then this rather seasoned and credible coach dropped the real show-stopper for the unsuspecting players who have spent countless hours working on their fielding finesse, bat speed, and change-ups. He said without a bit of reluctance, "If I watch a gifted player turn in an impressive performance, I want to know more. If that same player comes off the field and speaks disrespectfully to his parents, or impatiently about forgetting his water bottle or something -- I check him off my list right then and there. He won't get a second look. We don't need to spend our time or our money on those kinds of projects. We've learned our lesson." Wow! You could have heard a pin drop.
All the private lessons with the best hitting coaches won't produce the one ingredient that your son or daughter will need to get past this recruiter -- genuine character -- the kind that shows respect to the very people that made it all possible. But the question that's rattling in my mind is this: Did the parents in the stands accept the responsibility for teaching, or failing to teach, this concept to their children and hold them accountable for it? Or were they so focused on fielding, hitting, and pitching that it got overlooked? -- David Benzel