If you search the Internet, you will see a plethora of articles and posts on the common designation of parents when it comes to sports. I will rattle off a few but they are not the focus of this post:
- The Investor – “My child is going to play college ball and someday make the pros so let’s get started early.”
- The Status Lover – “Their success or failure is a reflection on me.”
- The Helicopter – “I know what’s best for my child’s future not her/him.”
- The Has-been or Neverwas – “I never made it in sports, so I will have my children do it for me.”
- The Indifferent – “What is the name of his team? I have no clue, this is his thing.”
I will add one that is never mentioned.
- The Addict – Watching my kids play sports is an addiction stronger than any drug that is manufactured or grown.
My name is John Lucero and I am an Addict.
<Crowd> “Hi John”
I have two boys, 19 and 15. This is the testimony of my addiction:
- I coached 12 years of baseball.
- I spent 12 seasons as our youth football team videographer.
- I coached 5 years of tackle football, 2 of them as head coach.
- I cofounded the local youth football and cheer organization and served as its vice president and then its president.
- I currently serve on the high school football booster club as chair of the Photo Committee, team graphic designer and one of the team video editors. This is my 5th year serving.
- My wife has volunteered to serve team meals to the boys.
As you can see we have mainlined our kids’ sports for some time now.
On February 5th, 2019 my supply was cutoff, indefinitely.
My son quit high school football.
If you know this boy, since 7 years old, he has been a fanatical follower of the game of football. He ate it, drank it and lived it, both in play and his admiration of players. His loyalty to this game and his teammates were unmatched. He has played through pain and adversity and all for his brothers. He was more devoted to the game, it seemed, than his older brother who himself played 17 seasons of football.
The last couple of months, however, took a turn we did not expect. His devotion to put in the work for the program was ebbing. Early morning wake ups for practices were a display of heated arguments and threats. His motivation, now, consisted only of his coaches telling him directly to participate. That was short lived as well.
As parents we looked to outside influences as this might be a sign of other problems such as drug use or depression. We took the avenues any concerned parent would take at the onset of these signals.
With that said, no, it’s not drugs, depression or any outside influence. He simply does not love it enough to see value in the work. He simply does not want it, like he used to when he was younger. No amount of discussion or influence from his coach, peers and even his football idol, his older brother, will sway him.
My wife and I are heartbroken to say the least. Like I said, this is our drug. He is taller, faster and hits as hard as his older brother did and his older brother was a great football player. This was now his time to show the world who he was. The entire family was excited to see how he and his classmates would turnout. We think it could be a state run team their junior year and my son was fully ready to count himself among those players, but no more.
We told him he had to speak to the head coach first, a man who has known my family for the past 7 years. My son and his son played football on the same youth team together. He was to face him and tell him, from his words, what he intends on doing. He did just that and as most kids would have wavered at the slight hint of a coach’s consternation, my son stood fast in his resolve that football was not for him any longer. His coach tried to reason with him and convince him to stay on, but my son’s mind was made up.
When we saw him later that day, he looked like he had just broken up with the love of his life. This was not a decision he thought over lightly. However, he told me, in not so many words, it is unfair to his teammates and to the coaches for him to stay on where his effort would be from obligation rather than love. He told me if he misses it and realizes it was a mistake, he will come back and work his ass off to show the team they can rely on him again. I have to respect him for it because at 15, I would have folded like a belt, for good or bad.
Here we are in unchartered territory, now. We no longer have a son in football while his classmates continue to play. We will not have #51 to cheer on at scrimmages and games. There will be no more early morning drives to practice. We will no longer meet with our team family in the stands of our little high school field, on Thursdays, where the Luceros were a mainstay for the past 6 years. I suppose this is where The Addict suffers the worst of the withdrawals but there is no 12 step program for us.
None of it really matters as this is not our life and we need to see it through with him no matter how it might differ from our expectations.
He said, “I prayed on this and God has a plan for me, dad, and it might not be football.” How can you argue with that statement?
Maybe the new drug, to this addict, should be to watch this good boy become a good man someday.
Oh, but I did so love to watch him play.