|"Yo, I'm gonna be the next Michael Jordan!" That was the dream of everyone
that could dribble a ball on my block. It didn't matter if they didn't have a
jump shot or couldn't make a lay-up. It didn't matter if we all knew those
wanna-be MJs weren't going to grow past 5'5". All that mattered were their
dreams of being professional athletes - doing 360 power dunks or pitching 100
miles per hour fast balls. No matter how badly some of those aspiring sport
superstars played, there were dads in the bleachers proudly cheering "that's
In a parent's eyes their child can do no wrong (most of the time). And the
seemingly irrational pride they show for the accomplishments of their young
"Billy" or "Susan," no matter how small, is simply love. After all, we all
know it should start at home. Hey, even big brothers can be proud too.
Jason Hyman is a name that you may want to get familiar with now. He is a
prime example of the positive influence of proud supportive parents. Jason is
a young baseball pitcher with a batting swing that may one day give Mark
McGwire a run for the record. He lives and breathes baseball and even sees
himself playing for the New York Yankees someday. Our parents have been more
than supportive of his love for the game. Dad would put in 10 hours at work
but managed to never miss a game. He was so supportive of my brother's love
for baseball that when the opportunity came up, he became the team's coach,
helping them to make a run for the state championship even as you read this.
However, Dad has not allowed his own love for the game or Jason's passion to
play, distract them from creating balance in Jason's regimen. Education is
also a priority. Jason is consistently reminded that he has to have a plan B,
and always told "to play baseball for yourself because you want to, not
because you have to."
But, what about those parents that live vicariously through their young
bucks? When is being supportive going too far? You've heard those stories -
"I was the best basketball guard that you would ever see in high school." Or
"I could have made pro only if I ..." (you add the rest). For every Venus
Williams or Tiger Woods, there's a dad thinking they too have the next "big
thing." And with professional sports blooming financially every year, some
parents see dollar signs when they look at their talented cherub.
Yes, unfortunately, there are parents who are not concerned with their child
having a good time and enjoying sports just for the fun of it. Their only
concern is the fame and fortune their child can bring just because they're
seminally good at swinging a tennis racquet, a baseball bat or a golf club.
They can only see their young prodigy in a Nike commercial or endorsing
Gatorade. Sad, but these are the times we're in. Hey there's nothing wrong
with dreaming, but what if those dreams belong only to the parents and not
the child? Is it really fair to insist that young athletes reach for a goal
they're not interested in?
It's a beautiful thing to see a child have a great game and enjoy the
admiration showered on them. But, too often parents can twist that into
they're own selfish greed for money and fame and diminish the purity of
sports for young children. So to all the greedy, selfish parents who can't
see the line between support and reliving their past, repeat after me - RIDE
To comment on this or any other column by Drew "The Truth" Alexander, email