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Scott Baker-Walkin’ The Sidelines

By SCOTT BAKER

For The Express

The average life expectancy for Americans now averages around 78.6 years. In the span of history, that is a microscopic period of time. Similarly, the amount of time that an individual has in their life to play sports is very short.

Therefore, it is important to understand that fact and make the most of it. Indeed, you get just one chance at life. Unfortunately, there are no do overs in terms of redoing one’s youthful years.

Yes, lives can be changed but that does not mean that youthfulness can be restored. For example, from a religious standpoint, one who is broken can make a decision to turn to God and be renewed. Someone who has some type of drug or alcohol issue can seek help and turn their life around. One who is in a job that they

don’t like can switch and get one that they enjoy. One might even change careers by going back to school. We could go on with examples.

However, despite any of the changes mentioned or any other similar changes in life, it must be understood that the years that have been used up in one’s life span will not be returned. That’s right. There will be no refund. So how does this all apply to sports?

After all, this is the sports page and we should be writing and reading about topics related to such. So let’s dive into this from a sports perspective. As has previously been stated, an individual only gets a certain small portion of their life to participate in youth and or scholastic sports.

A high school career is at a maximum, four years. Total time spent in organized sports at the middle and high school levels is a maximum of 6 years.

Let’s be clear. That is an extremely short period of time. Unfortunately, it is a period of time that young athletes or perspective athletes must get right. They must understand that the time is indeed short. Their time to play sports will be here and gone in the blink of an eye.

Anyone wishing to deny such a fact needs only to ask someone whose time at the high school level has passed. Oh to only have a nickel for everyone that I’ve heard over the years express how much they miss their days as a high school athlete.

Yes, indeed, time is precious. Unfortunately, all too often we all get caught looking ahead to the next best thing only to see the time fly by and quickly become but a memory. What we too often find then is that the next best thing isn’t that great after all.

So how should a young athlete treat the precious little time that they have to play youth and high school sports?

First, when they play, they should go all in. By going all in, they will not have to one day look back and wonder, what if? What if they had worked harder? What if they had spent more time on their sport? What if they had tried another sport?

By going all in, they will have earned themselves the best experience possible. Second, young athletes should participate in numerous activities and sports. Again, I would love to have a nickel for the number of adults who I’ve heard over the years admit that they wish that when they were in high school they would have played, X, Y, or Z.

Why didn’t they?

Well, I’ve found that the answers are many. They include but are not limited to, “I wanted to work to make money,” “I didn’t like the coach,” “the team stinks anyway, and “I was focusing on another sport.” The all-time most overused though is probably; “I’m going to lift for,” (fill in the sport). That seldom happens.

While all of these reasons perhaps have at least a little bit of merit, they can all lead to some regret in the future.

Why…because you can’t go back and do it all over again. When your time is done, it’s done, simple as that.

Now to be sure, I understand that in some cases it is necessary for kids to work. I get that and can support that. However, in cases where kids are choosing work over sports because they simply want to buy a car or something else, I fear they will one day have regret. In those cases, it would be wise to understand that they will have the opportunity to work for the rest of their lives.

In other words, there is plenty of time to work but just a precious small period of time to play. So this is a matter of need vs. want. I understand that some coaches are not the best. You may not want to play for them. You feel they don’t know what they are doing or whatever.

However, I fear that using this as a reason not to play a particular sport may lead to regret in the future. I understand some teams are not good. Could you perhaps be a difference maker? I understand that some athletes love one sport and want to focus solely on it.

Perhaps because they feel it will guarantee them a state championship or college scholarship or whatever. However, there is much information available that will support a valid argument against focusing on one sport for the above purposes.

Sadly, I fear that it could lead to regret in the future.

My advice is this. Don’t chance regret. Understand completely that the decisions that you make today will impact greatly how you feel tomorrow.

Don’t chance living a life of regret for the choices that you make today. Be an active sport participant. Participate in numerous sports. Perhaps try a sport that you’ve never tried. Chances are that you may even like it. If not, was there any harm? Probably not. Once in a sport, go all in. Leave nothing to chance. Give 100% at all times. Simply put, have no regrets.

By trying numerous sports and going all in when you do, chances are that when the short time that you spend in high school athletics ends, you will have little regret.

What will you have when the games are over? When your playing days are done? Will you be filled with wonderful memories of your time spent on or in fields, gymnasiums, mats, pools and tracks?

Or will you struggle with a sense of regret for opportunities missed that can never be had again? The choice is yours but understand that the choices you make today will impact you for the rest of your life.

Don’t miss out on the short window that you have in life to play, to compete and make sports memories. Don’t take a chance on regret. Rather, make many memories now. Those can never be taken away and you won’t regret them.

Side Note: The 2019-2020 high school sports season is about to begin. Have you completed your registration information for a fall sport? If not, now is the time. A fall sport is not your first choice? That’s fine. Take a chance anyway at making some memories with friends. It’s not too late.

Someday soon though it will be. Make memories and avoid the regrets. This scenario will repeat itself during the winter and spring sports seasons. Be a multi-sport participant. Your memories will be many while your regrets likely few.

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