Playing through the Pain

Seven years ago this Fall, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to train for and complete a marathon, a road race 98% of people never finish. This was a dream fulfilled that began in 1976 when my father ran the New York Marathon. The reason I feel fortunate resides in the fact that it took my family and friends to sacrifice in order for me to attain my goal; without them, I may not have finished. Throughout the training, there were days I felt sore, fatigued or even injured. It took some consideration to know which one was the answer to why my performance that day suffered. I never, though, played through the pain because that is a recipe for disaster.
Unfortunately, many youth athletic teams have forgotten this. Too frequently, athletic programs desire success so much that the players suffer. Someone recently asked me why we have athletics in high school. The answer is that coaches are building character within their athletes, but that seems to have been lost at some point. When parents try to dictate the way a coach should manage the team, the leadership has become misplaced.
Then I ask, if athletics build character, what should we do about those who are not interested in scoring that next point or racing past the other team? I think someone needs to figure out how to build character in today’s youth. When we play through the pain, we should bear down and finish our goals. We need to teach our kids that finishing and achieving goals won’t be the easy route to success, but it will be more rewarding. If we teach them to dream big, they will achieve.

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