Its only just a gem

Its only just a game.

It is only just a game. I said it. Its only just a game.

When caught up in the emotion of the moment, it is sometimes easy to forget that it is just a game. Even if it your job, it is still just a game. Even if it’s the most important game of the season that week. Or that season. Or that career.  It is only just a game.

If you are in little league, as a coach, parent, fan, official, or player, it is just a game. It is not going to determine your draft status, scholarship offer, financial tax bracket, or your reputation. It is just a game. It simply isn’t. Go to class. Have some laughs. Learn how to make friends. Allow yourself to grow up. Enjoy the orange slices and juice boxes. Chase butterflies on the field, and turn your back to the play. Enjoy yourself. Parents, feed them. They are growing. That includes on the field and off. Coaches, be delicate. Important cargo on board.

If you are in middle school, it is just a game. It does not matter what the wins and losses amount to. It is just a game. It does not matter how many points Jr. scored against another 8th grader. Alabama does not care. Neither do the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Yankees, or Montreal Canadians. There are too many more games to be played to award you their time, money, or energy. Relax mom and dad, they will find out about your child when they are old enough. Go to class kids. Listen to music. Amaze your parents with how fast you are growing. Check on their class work parents. Ask them how their day went. Deliver them to high school with a smile coaches.

If you are in high school, it is still just a game. Everyone knows the numbers on the small percentage of athletes that move on to the next level. (3%) Everyone knows the numbers on the larger percentage of students who move to the next level. (65%) Everyone should know the number of parents whose behavior makes their young people unattractive to colleges. High school coaches who understand that its just a game might get asked to pack up and move up to college athletics. Parents can only hinder their young person from going. The way for them to help is to love them, cheer for them, and then hand them over to the game.

If you are in college, it is still just a game. You aren’t paid. It is not your job. (I know, this is the topic for another piece!)  One percent of college athletes go pro at all, and usually not for long. ONE PERCENT. If you are a college coach, it is still about the young people. Prepare them for life in the majority. Give them skills to succeed in life, and off the field. That is why they are there. To be prepared for life away from the game is the focus. The game is just added value. Added and valued experiences and knowledge. The disciplines learned, the socialization, the maturity of hard work, time management, dating, social media exposure, diet, exercise, and mental health maturation are all learned here. This is the coronation. Celebrate it. Enjoy it. Understand that while the game may have been fuel for the journey, it is not the reason for the journey. Parents should be in release mode. Stand and applaud all that has been done, all that has been learned, and all that has been achieved. Coaches, deliver them into life with a smile. Enjoy your paycheck. Enjoy your exposure. Its still just a game.

Professionally, Its still just a game. While it is your job, it is not your life. Who you are is not what you do The game leaves you. The game ends. The crowd dwindles, and so does the payday. You resort back to your adolescent days. You have some goals still unfulfilled, and some reason to get out of bed daily. Athlete, player, coach, parent, or fan, it ultimately is a game that is taken way from you because it is just that. A game.