I recently attended a couple of high school basketball games at my alma mater with my older son. I hadn’t set foot in that building in 20+ years.
His laughter at seeing a team picture in a hallway of one of the basketball teams I played on back then was classic. (And no, that hairstyle wasn’t a mullet.)
I didn’t truly feel old until I found myself going on a familiar rant. I was paying almost as close attention to what was happening on the benches as in the game and calling my son’s attention to it.
Coaches look and act like they always have; the players on the bench, eh, not so much.
Folks in the stands were more involved in the game than kids in uniform on the benches. (It’s a pet peeve of mine.)
My wife almost sustained an orbital socket injury recently rolling her eyes at me. After my younger son’s school soccer game, I found myself coaching him about how to behave on the bench.
(He’s a 6th grader on a 6th through 8th grade team. The bench is familiar territory.)
He commented that he was bummed about not getting to play more after a certain game. I chuckled and said, nicely, I swear, “That’s funny. You guys look perfectly happy sitting on the bench.”
I waited for the, “Huh?” I knew was coming and explained that the coach is focused on the game. But whenever he looks towards the sideline, the one thing he never sees is anyone warming up or looking back at him like he wants in the game.
He seldom sees guys even watching the game. They’re talking and laughing it up or staring into space. Nothing on that sideline says, “Put me in coach!”
He replied, “Oh.” (Boy of many words.) He’s since become the first substitute and has gotten more playing time after adopting a more engaged “bench strategy.”
Now he wants to know how to be a starter. I told him, “Get better.” With love, I swear.
Most folks, young and old, feel that they are capable of more, if they can only “get their chance.” Too many, however, seem to be waiting for someone else to tell them when it’s time to step up.
And they usually get more experience at waiting than doing.
Pay attention. Work hard. Be ready. Keep your head up. But keep your hand up as well.
Don’t wait for someone to ask you to begin “getting ready.” Show in your words and actions that you are ready for the next level.
And when you do get your chance, show why you belong in the game.
As “big brotherish” and kind of creepy as it can seem sometimes, I have to give a hat tip to YouTube’s “recommended for you because you watched…” feature.
I jumped on last week and one of the suggested videos for me was of an interview with the comedian Louis C.K.
(Don’t judge me.)
In my humble opinion, he’s the funniest comedian working today. He crosses a few lines that I’d rather not cross, and his language might often make a sailor blush.
But, hey, free country. And his self-effacement makes him improbably likeable.
I actually enjoy watching interviews of comedians as much as their acts. But I’m not talking about interviews on the late night network shows. Those interviews are simply continuations of the act, with the hosts asking pre-planned questions.
I like interviews of comedians in a longer form, unscripted, and free of network censors. The more successful comedians all have stories (funny to them now) of how awful they were or the crowds were (or both) when they started their careers.
This video was Louis and an interviewer sitting on stage in front of a small auditorium of college students. He was irreverent and hysterical throughout.
But as I watched it, I wondered if that audience was “getting it.” Funny stories about busting your tail and putting up with miserable jobs (when those jobs weren’t cancelled altogether) and having people question your talents, etc. are more than funny stories.
They are instructive.
People don’t usually succeed because they are that much smarter or funnier or prettier than others. They succeed because they work harder and longer and simply do…not…quit.
The last audience question in this interview came from a young lady whom I don’t think “got it” yet. She said she admired his “up yours” (cleaned that up) approach and wanted advice on attitude.
Louis C.K., after taking a minute to (nicely) make fun of the idea that there are production jobs out there just waiting for her graduation, basically offered (cleaned up version): “If you are lucky enough to get a job, bust your tail to be great at it. Your job is to help something or somebody else succeed. You help others succeed, and they’ll never forget you. And be human…be nice. No one wants to work with jerks.”
The funny guy has seriously good advice.