I managed a travel youth baseball team for more than 10 years. Anyone who has ever managed any youth sport team for an extended period of time has witnessed the slow fade of dedication.
A lot of the older coaches disliked me when I started because they felt I was part of the problem. In a sense they were right but I like to think I was adjusting to the situation much like we taught our players to make adjustments in their game.
You see I did not have mandatory practices. At first, I thought it was silly to have mandatory practices for eight-year-old players whose attention span rivaled that of a flea. Plus, parents had other children in other activities they had to taxi so I felt it was the best solution all the way around.
I didn’t like the idea but it was practical. When I played high school baseball if you missed a practice, you didn’t play in the next game. Some find that approach harsh but it taught players to dedicate to an activity. I miss the diehard players. The ones who always asked for one more ground ball or one more pitch during batting practice.
Sadly, as the years went by the players had so many choices; so many other activities and so many other priorities that baseball was something to do, not a passion. So, I adjusted. I did not insist players attend practice and those who did got the benefit of extra reps and those who did not attend never improved beyond their talent.
And that is the saddest aspect of all. People who do not improve past their talent level because they do not hone their skill. They are missing out on an important aspect of life. Self-improvement. Talk about the ultimate FOMO.
I think Millennials fall into this category. They have floated through their early years going as far as their talent will take them without having to develop that skill. Their parents told them they were special. Their friends fawned over their ability. They got their participation trophy and life was good.
But as everyone knows, you have to grow up. And the world is not a kind place to people who expect things handed to them because they are “special.”
I heard clips of an interview with Le’Veon Bell, a football player who held out an entire year because he wanted more money. He whined the Pittsburgh Steelers, his former employer, did not treat him “like a human” because they dared to insist that he focus on football. He wanted to play video games and cut a rap album. The poor baby was making millions of dollars to play a game yet he feels he was not treated fairly.
And whose fault is that?
Charlotte Alter, is a writer for Time Magazine. She recently published an article on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. To promote the article, she Tweeted “AOC and I were born the same year. She was a Dunkaroos kid—I liked fruit roll-ups. People our age have never experienced American prosperity in our adult lives— which is why so many millennials are embracing Democratic socialism,”
Really? We have a woman who was a bartender one day and a Congresswoman the next that enjoys a number of donors throwing money at her. Alter’s father is a former editor at Newsweek and the New York Time and her mother is a TV executive producer. She graduated from Harvard. Tell me again how they are not enjoying prosperity?
The world outside of the cocoon we parents try to make for our children is harsh. Did we do our children any favors by making life so easy they now expect the government and society to continue the breast feeding?
An incident that stands out for me during my managing days epitomizes the crossroads we face. A player was close to scoring on a close play at the plate. He decided not to slide because there was a bat in the way. He was thrown out. I asked him why he did not slide and he said “I’m not going to hurt myself for this team.”
A fair statement and belief. Two innings later a similar situation was at hand but this time it was a hardcore player who slid over the bat and scored. He had a bruise but didn’t care. The first player overheard me tell my coach “That’s the kind of players we need.”
After the game his mother proceeded to scream at me for making the comment. I allowed her to vent and told her I did not expect her son to slide if he does not want to slide. I then said “However, I look for players who are willing to play hard so after this year I will not be asking your son to return to the team.”
To this day she still considers me an evil person. That may be true but I’m pretty sure a hiring manager will hire a person dedicated to doing a good job and willing to do what it takes to succeed versus a person getting by on talent alone.
It’s a harsh world and us parents that created the millennials are to blame for a generation of people that want the government to do everything for them while they play their videogames.