By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck LLC
I’ve always been one who believes that, as long as it is not a tragedy, we can turn any negative into a positive. Thinking that way is more challenging than ever now, but it can be done.
Clearly, the deaths Covid-19 has brought are tragic, as are the serious, long-term health consequences to be faced by many survivors. There is nothing good to be found there.
But as we slog through this thing, I think we all are finding some positives on a personal, societal, and global level. Things like reduced pollution levels due to fewer cars on the road and the beneficial effects of fewer people interacting with wildlife on many animal species will guide us in changing our behavior in the future. I hope.
More companies are learning that their employees can be productive working from home some, or all of the time. Those that decide to continue with the new paradigm after this is over will thrive with reduced costs, less environmental impact, and happier workers.
There are many more worldwide examples, too numerous to mention, as well as those we’ve each found on a personal level. In my case, having all four of my grown children home together for the first time in years is something for which I will forever be thankful.
But as this pertains to sports. – youth sports in particular – I am having a bit of a struggle. Because of my years as a Little League coach my first thoughts go, naturally, there. I think of all the kids who were looking forward to their 12-year-old seasons, the final one on the small field, who missed out.
If this had happened to any of my three sons I don’t want to say it would have been “tragic”, because it wouldn’t have truly been a tragedy, but we’d have taken that pretty hard. Especially since in our league teams were “titled” meaning you came back to the same team with the same coach each year. By the time one got to their twelve year-old season it was a culmination of three years' hard work. I can’t imagine finding a positive in missing that.
Or how about the kids playing their senior year of a high school sport? I remember all my children’s Senior Days when they were honored on the field, presented with gifts, knowing this would be their final home game. How awful it must have been for the kids this year who never even knew they were playing for the last time, didn’t get to sit with that introspection while trying to harness the emotions that come with that monumental event. And for the vast majority, the ones who will not be going on to play in college, the abrupt loss of the season must have been excruciating.
So how do we find a positive in these scenarios? I don’t know, exactly. But we must. Bitterness is like a piece of rusty iron that needs to be scrubbed with a wire brush and repainted so that it doesn’t continue to corrode until the metal is worthless.
Maybe we learn a painful lesson in not taking things for granted and in getting back up somehow stronger after being knocked down. And maybe those lessons serve us much longer than our sports careers would have.
Years ago I was out of town on business to run a sales presentation. The morning of the meeting I woke up to a hotel with no hot water. Later, when I spoke to the sales team, I related how my day had started by shivering through an icy shower. I then told them it occurred to me that if this was the worst thing that happened to me that day, it was going to be a great day.
One of the sales reps sitting near the front nodded his head in agreement, his eyes moist. He had recently lost his wife of over 30 years to cancer. He knew the difference between an inconvenience and a tragedy.
Obviously, a cold shower pales in comparison to having your final sports season torn away. This is terrible, awful. But maybe we can explain to our kids that if this is the worst thing we ever have to go through, then we’ve had a pretty good life.
Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.