Rarely do we go to the movies, but my husband Grit and I went to see “Draft Day,” a movie about the NFL draft which started on ESPN today.
In the movie, Kevin Costner stars as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. The story of intrigue during an NFL draft was a bit theatrical but well done. Possibly too well done for our comfort because of our experiences with the 1984 draft where our son Steve Young was touted to be the first pick in that draft.
At one point early in the movie, I turned to Grit and said, “This is getting a little too close for comfort.” He shook his head, “Yes.”
Parenting can be tricky at best, but when it goes beyond our own experiences, we cry for help, which we did in the form of sports agent Leigh Steinberg. The experience was exciting, but also an intense and anxious time for us.
The USFL, a new spring football league, was striving to get some of the premier players to add legitimacy to their league and were vying for Steve’s talents as well.
It’s an old and well-told story by now, but the end result was that he signed with the USFL. I recently read a blog that said Steve was still receiving money from the LA Express annuity — he is not. That all folded with the league in 1985. He eventually bought his way out, allowing him to be drafted in the NFL 1984 supplemental draft.
His choice was never about the money. Steve cringed at being called the "$40 million man." The choice was so he wouldn’t be a backup behind a legend, but that is exactly what happened anyway — and the legend was Joe Montana. Whew!
As the movie went on, we got more comfortable because the real story of “Draft Day” is integrity. I know I am his mother, but others will agree if there is one thing Steve has in spades, it is integrity. To this day, that quality along with honesty and determination has brought success in his life — two other positive qualities shown in the movie.
Because of our 26 grandkids, we spend some serious time watching them play sports or performing in other ways. At these events and gatherings, we watch how intense some parents are.
The parents at times are embarrassing and overbearing in their zeal to have their child succeed. They sometimes teach them, or at least turn a blind eye, to succeed at any cost, like calling a tennis opponent’s shot out or tripping a player when no one is watching or allowing them to be swaggering bullies.
There is some interesting information about parenting and youth sports that is worth reading on the website imom.com. The article “Your Child’s Future in Sports: The Real Odds” shows the low statistics of reaching a sports goal beyond high school and the value of putting sports into perspective, saying: “We outline these sobering numbers not to discourage parents or their children, but to help us all remember that youth sports are — for 97 percent of the kids who play them — NOT a means to a greater end. They simply are what they are: a chance to have fun and develop life skills which will translate into other arenas like perseverance, a good work ethic and team work.”
From our experience, if we have any advice to offer here, it is: While it’s good to have dreams, a child has not failed if there isn’t a “Draft Day” outcome. Encourage them to have joy, find their individual talents and abilities and, most of all, raise them to live with honesty, determination and integrity.