Coach Pete

Expert advice for Swimmers, Triathletes, and Coaches

The Young Athlete

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They also serve who sit by Pat McInally

Pat McInally was a sports reporter for the New York Daily News during the late 1960’s. He wrote a column to young athletes in a question and answer form. While I was clearing out some of my old paperwork that just seems to accumulate over the years I came across this old article that I clipped out of the paper and used it on many occasions to make a point about not giving up. A reader poised a question to Pat and it went like this.

Our son is a good athlete but has never really gotten to play much. He puts in so much time and energy and he knows he’ll never be a star, but he keeps practicing and sitting on the bench anyway. We don’t want to discourage him, but don’t you think he should get involved in something in which he would be more successful?

Pat Answered:

I don’t know if you’ve ever played any sports but, believe me, there is so much more to athletics than just being a star. Sure, it’s great to receive the awards and fame that go with stardom, but they’re just bonuses, not the only reasons for playing. Whatever happened to things like enjoying the competition, sharing the camaraderie between teammates, and developing discipline, sacrifice and dedication. Somewhere along the line, probably because of television coverage and large professional contracts, too many of us have lost track of these priorities. Can’t you see that your son’s attitude and approach exemplifies what athletics are supposed to be all about? Instead of thinking about discouraging him, why aren’t you praising him and be proud that he’s out there working hard to do something because it’s important to him and not just for superficial rewards. You wonder if he should quit and find something else that he would be more successful in. Well, I think the work habits and persistence he has exhibited, with little reward beyond personal satisfaction and that which he shares with his team, make him very successful! These are irreplaceable and will help him throughout his life, far more than trophies, press clippings, or dating the cheerleader.

Sports like life, is unpredictable. Your son may never leave the bench, but who’s to say that he’s not just a late bloomer and may some day get his chance to star. In either case, you should be encouraging him to continue his quest and be thankful that he has the drive and guts to keep playing, despite his discouragement and lack of success thus far.


I hope you enjoyed Pat’s Article as much as I did….Please feel free to comment on it….Coach Pete

February 21, 2008 - Posted by | Parents

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