Part II: Chicago Tribune “Opinion” Article on Chicago Bull Derrick Rose Slightly Bent

Highlighting Mark Yost’s article published last week in the Opinion section of the Chicago Tribune, Derrick Rose is no role model, I ended (in Part I) taking issue with Yost’s inference that high level goals [scholarship, NBA] were only fairytales that should not be supported or encouraged because, statistically, they are nearly impossible to achieve.

With that I have this to say:

If one only judges what one can accomplish based on what statistics show or what others believe to be “reality” then one limits themselves only to what the average can accomplish.

Now if Yost had said that goals of this magnitude [scholarship, NBA] are very rare and should never be set at the exclusion of one’s education, that playing any sport for the sole purpose of scholarship, money, fame, status, etc. is a big mistake riddled with unintended risks and possible consequences, that goals like this need to be kept in the proper perspective―a possible outcome of hard work, perseverance, commitment, proper setting of priorities, etc. (transferable to other aspects of life when kept in this proper perspective), then we would be in agreement.

However, he did not. He discourages this high level goal thought process altogether.

It has been my experience that nothing truly worthwhile was ever easy to accomplish and that goals and dreams like the ones Mr. Yost is referencing give better, more focused direction to one’s life, albeit not to the exclusion of other important aspects [school] that need to be set as a priority. It is not, or should not be, an either/or proposition.

In the end, it is not really the accomplishment itself (if it happens) that holds the most value to an athlete anyway; it is the willingness to go through a process of reaching for something that looks to others to be out of reach. The value in that is immeasurable, even if the goal is not achieved.

And if the “right” message is not being given to, or absorbed by, the athletes to which Yost is referring, then let’s find a way to change or improve on that message, not state that goals of high magnitude are fairytales and should not be supported. Doing that kills dreams. It is the easier suggested solution in order to address a much bigger problem than setting a goal to get a scholarship to play basketball or become an NBA player.

Following Yost’s inferences solves nothing. Changing or improving the message and finding ways to create understanding in those that message affects, changes everything.

That brings me to this statement by Yost:

“…kids are often told to sacrifice academics for the sake of athletics. Think about that: They’re told to give up on the one thing that can get them out of the inner city or off the farm and instead told to focus on a million-to-one long shot. It makes for a great Hollywood script, but in real life these stories often end tragically.”

Ok, who is telling these kids this? The schools? As an educator, I have a hard time believing that.

Is it their coaches? If so, that will need to change. If they are encouraging a “go pro” type of attitude at the expense of a good education, then they are certainly a part of the problem.

As I stated, encouragement (from all, especially coaches) should be about the process, not the outcome; it is that process that is transferable to other aspects of life.

Or is it society that is supporting this idea of going pro? You know, becoming famous, gaining fortune and prestige, and doing this by any means necessary. If so, then that certainly is a conundrum. Whether we like it or not, we are going to need people in a respected position to make a difference for our youth.

And who might be in the best position to encourage a message that school is important, that a good education NEEDS to go along with any other goals (dreams) that one sets? Who has that kind of respect?

Of course parents, but not just them. We need individuals who young athletes, kids, look up to. Individuals who can, through their example, give incentive to those aspiring to reach beyond normal limits.

Yes, we certainly could use some good athlete role models. Again, they don’t have to be, but it would be better if they were.

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