Monday, April 6, 2015

Sports & Parenthood In The Aggregate

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

You’ve been barking the entire game.  Clueless officiating and sketchy coaching by the home team have your blood boiling.  The press is giving the team fits. They need another ball handler on the floor.  The rebounding is awful.  Their archaic zone defense is gift-wrapping offensive put-backs.  And is the team going to run organized offense?  It’s all freelancing.  No one is moving without the ball and everyone has a hero complex.  Is this “he who takes the most bad shots wins”?

It’s so obvious from the bleachers.  In fact, your verbal lashings were so wise, an assistant coach requested your presence in the locker room at halftime.  Entering the team’s inner sanctum, 12 sets of eager eyes stare at you.  The coach admits he’s lost and hands the team over to you.  This is a Hoosiers adaptation and you’re cast as head coach Norman Dale.

Just before the second half begins, a voice from beyond asks, “Coach, do you want a tie game or a two point lead.”  What?  You realize you’re dreaming, but this is too good to quibble.  The choice seems obvious: take the lead.  Or is it?  Context is required.  Is the team clinging to a two-point lead after being up 15 or did the boys draw even after trailing most of the half? Given those scenarios, you take the tie…and the momentum.  

The alarm wails.  Another day begins; another dream ends prematurely.  You’ll never get to coach your Jimmy Chitwood.  Now conscious, the tie/two-point lead debate lingers.  There’s something to that, beyond an imaginary basketball game.  Moments and circumstances can complicate fact.  Take Tiger Woods.  What if someone had said in 1997, shortly after he won The Masters, that Woods would have 14 major championships at age 39?  Would you have bet on him to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18?  Probably.  But you wouldn’t now, having witnessed his mental and physical meltdown…even though he’s 39 with 14 majors.

What about the Bryce Harper?  Rewind to 2010, the year he was drafted.  Would you have considered a Rookie of the Year award, two All Star appearances and 55 home runs before age 23 successful?  Absolutely – and he’s done it all.  So why does Harper feel like a disappointment so far?

For reasons I cannot explain, this dichotomy between facts and perceptions had me thinking about parenthood, a trade where the truly accomplished often feel far from successful.  For the best - and there are many – a parental audit revels many accolades, from the basic to the complex.  Fact: kids sleep in warm beds and with full tummies.  Fact: they are doing fine in school; perhaps they’re even on the honor roll (I see your bumper stickers on the Southern Maryland roadways).  Fact: many are involved in extracurricular activities – band, swimming, baseball, cheerleading, etc – and, judging from their smiles, they’re having a blast.  Fact: kids are loved more than they can possibly know.  Fact: they think mom and dad are super heroes, even though they don’t know Taylor Swift’s latest song.    

(Written with the Cowardly Lion’s “Courage” speech in mind…)

Who provides the roof and the rations (veggies included)?  Parents.  Who runs a non-stop taxi service?  Parents.  Who’s the teacher’s evening assistant and a child’s emotional foundation?  Parents.  Who dries the tears, cleans the cuts and breaks up the fights?  Parents.  Who does it all from the morning’s misty mist to the evening’s dusty dusk?  Parents.

Yet parents frequently feel inadequate.  Why?  We rock!  I suppose because when we aren’t our best, it weighs heavy on our hearts.  Dog tired and stressed, we can be impatient.  Work sometimes causes us to miss activities.  We occasionally yell when we should have hugged or order when we should have listened.  The moment can produce our worst, a pesky blemish on an otherwise stellar body of work.  In the aggregate, we are overwhelmingly loving and hard-working.  In the aggregate, we have momentum.  In the aggregate, (say it with me) we’re doing just fine.  Just like Bryce Harper will be just fine.  Woods?  Okay, you got me.  I still wouldn’t bet on him winning 18 majors. 


  1. You know, Ronnie Guy, even from 5000 miles away, I have to chuckle at the fact that your relentless optimism makes me want to turn from my wicked pessimistic ways and write something positive on my white board...

    1. You know Candice Anderson, Earth isn't big enough for you to escape my prose. You'll need space, the final frontier, and even then there are no guarantees. I feel almost certain that aliens occupy my fan club. I might be bigger w/them than I am w/humans. As for my optimism/your pessimism, remember these articles are group therapy. We're not that much different you know...I need the boost as much as anyone else. Shoot me your email sometime. Take care...