I can only imagine what the relationship was like between my grandfather and his father when it came to sports.
Things that come out of a movie like “The Natural.”
“You got a gift, Roy,” Roy Hobbs father told Roy in the opening scene of the baseball movie set in the 1920s and 30s. “but it’s not enough. You gotta develop yourself. Rely too much on your own gift and you’ll fail.”
I imagine fathers and sons having a catch in the backyard, fathers pushing their sons on the athletic fields, and dropping the matter once they were sitting at home with mom and sister in front of a home cooked meal.
Those days are over, and that is a sad reality.
Fathers are failing their kids. We as society are failing our youth.
My Dad, and both of my grandfathers have made me into the human being I am today. I am currently working two full-time jobs and running a small business. I was never much of an athlete though. I had flashes of talent in baseball, wrestling and cross country, but rarely put in the necessary work it would have taken to achieve greatness.
And now 10 years later, I am addicted to work, working hard, and getting things done the right way. Thanks Dad (Jeff McMurry), Papaw Tom (McMurry) and Papaw Vance (Pyle), and even guys like Dave Janssen, Tom Lutz, Dick Van Arsdel, and Bob Cox who have molded me from a young kid into a man.
Do you see where I’m going yet?
My Dad never pushed me at home. He would tell me things like Roy Hobb’s father told him, but he wasn’t demanding me to it. And when I chose to quit playing the two sports he loved the most — baseball and wrestling — he simply said OK and immediately became my biggest supporters in other sports. I’m sure he was disappointed at the time, but is way prouder now as he reads this column than he ever could have been of me as a star athlete.
The newest generations of fathers aren’t like my Dad. It’s tough to admit, but they just aren’t.
As I was driving through Darlington last night I caught a peak of the ball diamonds flooded with players, and Dads. Now wait a second... A coached-pitch game being played had a Dad on the field for every single position player.
And we all know what those Dad’s were doing and thinking. They were trying to make every move for their 8-year old boy, and in their minds wondering why their son wasn’t playing short-stop and picturing the days when he is the short-stop for North Montgomery’s varsity as a freshman. And when they got home last night he nitpicked every little aspect of the game, and today at work he’s telling all of his co-workers how great his son already is at baseball. And next year he will make him play travel ball whether he wants to or not, and football and basketball camps and travel teams are a requirement too.
Don’t get me wrong, you should pump your kids up, and be their No. 1 fan. But that’s what they are. They are kids. All kids have different interests and those interests change constantly, and that is OK.
As a society we need to stop trying to get our kids to be who we want them to be. We need to stop trying to make every move for them.
Should we raise them exactly how we were raised or our fathers were raised? No, I didn’t say that either. But taking the “kid” and “fun” element out of our youth is destroying their future.
Some of my best memories as a kid are chasing people on bikes in Darlington, staying up to late, swimming in grandma’s pool even though I had a baseball game that night. Simply doing the things I maybe wasn’t suppose to be doing. I was just being a kid, and that’s what my parents raised me to do, was to make my own choices, reap the benefits from the right choices I made, and pay the consequences for the wrong ones.
Instead, today we are deciding what our kids are going to eat for dinner every day of the week, what shows they are going to watch on TV, and what sports they are going to play without even taking time to seek interest in what their favorite things are.
And it all starts with good ole Dad.
I am the man I am today because my Dad gave me a high-five when I did something good, but gave me a hug when I messed up. He showed me what hard work truly is, and never made me chase after something I didn’t love.
Tell your Dad a Happy Fathers Day this weekend. Even if your childhood seemed miserable, I can guarantee part of the good in you now, came from him.
So let’s get back to raising boys to become men of honor, dignity, and of great work ethics, who love their families and strive to give them all the things our father’s gave us.
Happy Fathers Day.
Jared McMurry was born and raised in Montgomery County and is the Sports Editor of the Journal Review