Sunday, May 15, 2011

Politics and sports

I posted this remark and question on Facebook today:
from all the updates I've seen today about parents in RB who had kids who got nto the football team. I'm curious how many DIDN'T make the team. last time I heard, there were around 150 kids who didn't make it... Hey Jr. Spartans.... Time for an A&B team set up?

It reminded me of baseball tryouts and how some kids got on teams that were stacked and other teams were a case of the bad news bears... and even how some kids were picked to move up and others weren't. I remember time after time of going to tryouts and doing very well. I had practiced for hours each week during the off season and was determined to be the best player I could be. Oh how naive I was then....

It also reminded me of High School soccer tryouts. kind of similar story... The coach had his favorites... I ran a faster mile and a half, I was quicker at the 40 meter dash, I was able to jump higher, and easily defended more shots on goal. This was my freshman year. I didn't make the team. chalk it up to politics and favoritism and not wanting to be on the rookie. I get it.

Sophomore year, same story. exchange student from Brazil and a new coach and wanted to make it look good having a foreign exchange student. He reminded me of Jorge Campos. Flashy goalie, but not effective at actually keeping the ball from going in the net.

Junior year... same coach, but one of his sons was trying out... who was 6 inches shorter, slower, and just plain sucked. Yeah, you've found one of the Nice Guy's weaknesses. politics in sports. Honestly, the first two years I was able to chew it up and swallow my frustration. It hurt more knowing the team won one game that year. It also made it hurt less as I sat at each game and snickered to myself as they got slaughtered.

Recap: Freshman through junior year, soccer teams were chosen based on politics.

And then my senior year came around... We had a coach that was actually a soccer player, played for Chico State, and knew the game inside and out. Regardless of whether I made the team or not, I knew I had put in outrageous amounts of work into being in the best shape ever. I searched high and low for tips and tricks of how to be a better goalie, and to understand the game. I learned and practiced Plyometrics, I started running long distance, I did weightlifting. When I wasn't in school or attending church, I had a soccer ball with me. Come hell or high water, I was going to make the team my senior year.

Tryouts arrive and sure enough, some of the "chosen ones" made their jokes "Hey, is JD going to set the record for most tryouts and not make the team" kind of crap. At that moment, I knew I was going to show them up. I could have played any position and beat them. both in ball skills and endurance. I worked my ass off and I planned on showing it. And whaddya know? Having an intelligent coach and a year's worth of hard training paid off. I was starting goalie for every game that season. In the toughest loss of the season, I actually set a league record for the most saves in a game... 47. We lost 1-0 to Pleasant Valley. And at the end of the year, I was awarded All League Goalie by the coaches of the league.

So, the question of the hour is this: Should returning players have to tryout? How should perceived favoritism be handled? And most importantly... what should parents tell their kids when they don't make the team?


  1. Everyone should try out every year.....and may the best man (or woman) win! Sports teaches more than athletics & should teach kids how to take their lumps with grace. You certainly did - even tho they were undeserved.

  2. The one thing I forgot to mention was that I was thankful for the lumps along the way. I realized that life will never be fair. my best bet is to work as hard as I can, and leave everything on the field or the court. I will never have regrets, and also know that I gave it my all. I have always loved the quote "Success isn't permanent, and failure isn't fatal". Therefore I will strive diligently in all my endeavors. hopefully along the way showing my kids that hard work, determination, and ethics will get them to the finish line in anything they do.

    Thanks for the comment! Hope you have a great week!