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Scott Baker’s Walkin’ The Sidelines: Priorities and Commitments

Hey athletes, have you put your priorities in order?

Do you follow your priorities?

Parents, have you?

Are your priorities properly placed?

As Americans, we lead busy lives. We run, run, run. When we are done running, we run some more. If only this running was the type that would keep or get us in shape. Unfortunately, it is not. It is the type that keeps us busy and perhaps even less healthy as a society.

The running that we do is from one activity to another. We run from one sporting event and activity to the other. In doing so, we have prioritized. We have prioritized, but we’ve likely not committed. Yes, we have prioritized without actually having sat down to prioritize.

You see, what we spend the most time doing shows our priorities. All of our running has consequences. While we run, we are sacrificing things that we should probably have placed a little higher on our list of priorities. I’m referring to things like our health, our families, our education and our faith.

Let’s start with our health. As we rush about from place to place, we find less time to eat properly. It is quicker for us to stop at a fast food restaurant to eat than it is to get a good healthy meal. Fast food chains are everywhere. We find one, we eat and we run. Often, we eat in the car as we run to our next event. The consequence of this behavior is a population that grows unhealthier by the day. Anymore we can’t even say that we choose the fast food route because it’s cheap. Indeed, the price of fast food has risen considerably. Recently, I stopped at a fast food drive thru and ordered a value meat. The cost was $9.78. Some value. Guess I wasn’t paying attention but the price sure got it. In other words, we are paying more than ever to become unhealthy.

Next, we consider academics. As we run, our kids have a very limited amount of time to focus on that which will allow 99.9% of them to one day have a healthy standard of living. I’m referring to their academics. Yes, while we are running from practice to practice and athletic event to athletic event, we are allowing our kids to skip time on that which will one day pay their bills — a job that they will get as a result of a quality education earned. Believe it or not, there are people driving two to three hours several nights a week during the school year for their child to practice for a travel or club team of some sort or to get training in their particular sport. Is this really worth it?

Perhaps, but it will come with both sacrifice and at a price. While we run, we ignore quality time with our families. Yes, quality time can be had during those care rides. I have written specifically on that subject in the past in this column. However, do we really have the time to sit down with family or truly focus on the needs of the family?

Do we take the time to sit down and eat as a family on at least a somewhat regular basis?

Sadly, I think those opportunities have become very limited for many, a “thing of the past.” They simply are no longer a priority for many.

Last, I make reference to our faith. When we are on the run, we don’t have time for that either. Want a perfect example?

Think about the amount of times people have missed a faith-based activity in order to run to an athletic activity. I’ve experienced this myself. Yep, I’m far from perfect in this regard. Actually, I’m far from perfect in many regards. Rather, I’m likely a very typical Christian in that I’m very imperfect. Today, it is almost commonplace to find athletic activities on Sunday mornings. I will readily admit that I’m personally opposed to the scheduling of an athletic activity or event on a Sunday morning. Make no mistake, I’m old school when it comes to that. To me, that time is for church and family. However, that is easy enough for me to control when I’m the one in charge of the activity, but what about the dilemma of participating in Sunday morning activities when they have been planned by others?

What happens when you’re team is participating in a Saturday/Sunday event and is scheduled to play on Sunday morning?

I wish I had the answer.

Of course, the “right” thing to do in such a situation is not to attend the event. In fact, I’ve known families to do just that. While it put the team in a tough spot, it was hard to criticize their decision to do so. That is certainly a simple response but unfortunately we are all human and life enters the picture. The best-case scenario would be for our society to turn back the clock to our traditional roots and make Sunday a sacred day once again. Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen anytime soon.

Without question, the priority of athletes and their parents is a difficult subject. At the same time, in addition to an athlete’s priorities, we must also consider the commitment that must be made by athletes and their parents when they choose to be part of a team.

An issue that has slowly crept into our athletic world in the last few years is players missing practices and even events for functions such as birthday parties, dates, concerts and even vacations. Surely, it’s easy to see in those cases that the player has clearly established their priorities and it’s obviously not the team. What is a player saying to their coaches and teammates when they skip a team function for a “fun event?”

What are parents saying by allowing their athlete to skip team functions?

It’s really clear.

They are saying that the team is not of utmost importance. It is not a priority.

You see, when we prioritize, we make a commitment to what is important. When something is important, we take it seriously. When we are a part of a team, we must commit to the team. We must understand that being apart of something requires sacrifice and that just might include things that you would like to do, but can’t because you’re committed to your team.

Therefore, you just might have to schedule those “fun things” around the team activities. Sadly, too many lack the willingness to sacrifice things for the team. They lack the willingness to commit. I’ve heard of too many situations where athletes have missed practices and games for activities with friends, concerts, vacations, etc.

Those things surely are important, but when in season, an athlete must commit to what should be their priority, the team and their teammates. Athletes should stop trying to do multiple activities at the same time. Parents should assist their athlete in prioritizing and acting upon those priorities. It is my feeling that when you spend a little bit of time doing a lot of things, you’re spending a lot of time doing nothing.

Let’s get back to the decisions that we can each make in the short term — the decision to put priorities in order.

What are your priorities?

Do your actions match your priorities?

Are you committed and if so, to what?

Only when priorities and commitments match up will you be truly successful at what you claim is important.

So, what’s important to you?

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