A Child's Dream Reached and Then Forgotten: Advice for the Professional Athlete

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A Child's Dream Reached and Then Forgotten: Advice for the Professional Athlete

Do you remember when you were a little boy or a little girl and the only thing you ever dreamt about was becoming a professional athlete? Do you remember collecting baseball, football, or even basketball cards? Some were more special to you than others of course but they were all important to your collection.

How about those times when you shot a basketball around in your backyard and counted down aloud, "3-2-1, at the buzzer...it's good! And (your favorite team) wins the title!" You smiled every time the ball "swished" through the nylon net and every time you "clanked" one off the iron rim, you would run after the ball and try even harder the next time.

What about the moments when you and your friends found any type of ball you could to play home run derby in the neighborhood? If you hit the roof on the right house it was a home run, the roof on the left it was foul. Don't forget, if your friends caught the ball, no matter where it went or what it hit, it was an out.

In-the-middle-of-the-street football anyone? "Run seven steps, turn around, I'll pump fake it and look over your left shoulder, it will be right there." If there was grass, the game would be tackle football...if it was in the middle of the street, two-hand touch.

Hours would go by and you wouldn't even think about quitting or even taking a break.

You would have played forever for free...for pride...for competition... most of all, for fun.

Do you remember those glorious days as I do? How about the pros, the guys that turned that childhood dream into a reality? Do you think they remember how it used to be as kids? Quite frankly, I don't.

Other than a handful of players in each of the major pro sports, where has the passion gone? Where has the little kid gone that would have done anything to play ball forever, for nothing?

I'll tell you. Their reflections can be seen on $100 bills everywhere. Their fingerprints can be traced on SUV's and sports cars nationwide. Unfortunately, the heart that got them to where they are today can no longer be felt.

Whether it's Terrell Owens whining about not getting the ball enough or if its the two or three players a week who are arrested for drug use, it amazes me what these athletes will do to possibly jeopardize their career(s).

How about the players like Allen Iverson who whine about "practice"...over and over and over again? I know Allen you're right... who would pay you $10 million a year and expect you to practice?

My favorite though has to be when athletes are offered $4-5 million deals and they "sit out" of practice or training camp so they can get a better deal. My bad guys...I forgot to mention your private jet, your personal travelling chef and massage therapist. Still not good enough?

Okay how about all of those things and we give you another five million dollars on top of that and if you win any individual awards we will give you an impressive bonus? Deal.

Sometimes I think these players should have their agents call up Howie Mandel and book them on the hit TV show, Deal or No Deal. In fact, it may make business easier.

I'm sick and tired of these athletes whining about what they don't have when indeed they have more than most of us will dream of. I'm so sorry that Latrell Sprewell can't "feed his family" with a few million dollars...hey Spree, why don't you try doing it with $40,000 a year, the average American income.

Matt Jones, before you smoke that joint or do those drugs...think about all that you have...how lucky you are, and with one puff it could all be gone. Seriously, is getting high worth more than a lifetime dream, a lifetime of hard work spent? If so, why not just cash in your chips now and go live in your mansion and smoke for days-just please get off my screen.

I get it, we all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect and nobody can live a flawless life. I am not even asking you to be a role model... do what you want, but don't ask for unconditional support when you won't even sacrifice a few minutes after a game to sign autographs for the fans who pay your salary.

Isn't it sad that the best years of a player's career is more times than not his "contract year." Isn't it ironic that the players who make the least amount of money work the hardest? Of course they work the hardest, they want money out of it.

There's nothing wrong with wanting money, fame, or even your first Porsche, but all I ask for is a little effort...a little less whining...a lot more heart.

You worked your entire life to get to the incredible position you find yourself in...why in the world would you waste it all now? Why would you ask for more money, then get it, and disrespect your team, your family, your fans, and most of all yourself?

The time is now, not later.

Remember your past. Remember your childhood. Remember those days you wish you could fly. Remember those days you wish you could have your name on the back of a jersey. Remember how proud you wanted to make your family and friends. Remember the game you fell in love with...for free.

From a fan who had those dreams and never made them come true...

Cherish it. Live it. Love it. That's all I ask.

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