Editor’s note: The Union Leader is bringing back some of the late Joe Sullivan’s Union Leader sports columns. This one was originally published on March 28, 2006.
HERE’S AN advice column that no one asked for but I hope thousands read and hundreds heed.
Consider advice from even the most bizarre source and hope that you find at least one tidbit that makes sense. That piece of advice will be tested here today.
Resolve to write one thank-you note a day to people who did something nice for you, who had a positive influence on your life. Start with your parents and grandparents and go directly to your teachers and coaches, present and former. If you write 365 notes in one year, count yourself blessed. Then, try to run your consecutive-day thank-you-note streak to 730.
Thank you for reading this.
Listen carefully at basketball games when young fans from opposing teams enter into the battle of chants. Following this advice will help you realize that creative (and loud) hoop fans are alive and well.
Thank the leaders of pep bands (and their members) for adding so much to high school and college basketball games. They lift the enjoyment of basketball to another level.
Encourage leaders of pep bands (and their members) to broaden their sports horizons. How good would a pep band be at a softball or baseball game? At a track meet? At a golf match? The possibilities are staggering.
Appreciate the hours cheerleaders put into their routines. Today, pep squad members, for the most part, do not attend games to lead cheers. They are there to perform. And they do that at a high level.
Arrive at practice at least 10 minutes before it begins and leave at least 10 minutes after it ends. Especially if you’re a captain. Captains should never expect more privileges. They should always expect more responsibilities.
Appreciate athletes who play sports other than yours. It’s disturbing to hear stories of wrestlers dissing basketball players and football players denigrating soccer players.
And vice versa.
Either way, it’s always crazy.
Hustle to retrieve balls fouled behind home plate no matter what level of baseball or softball you are playing. Umpires may have abysmal sight but they have extraordinary memories. Trust me on this.
Call umpires “Blue” even when they’re wearing those ridiculous off-color shirts so many believe are spiffy. Disregard their red shirts, their blue shirts, their magenta shirts. “Blue” is always the perfect word.
And to “Blue.” Please ignore advice from your association bigwigs who encourage you to quit working in the youth leagues where you started. Sure, as you advance to working at better levels for bigger paydays, going back to your roots may hurt you a tad, but never abandon Little League and Cal Ripken baseball or Junior Deb softball. Those kids in those leagues deserve a game or two from you.
Memorize this adage, believe it, then try to live by it: Your education and your experience tell me where you’ve been; your attitude tells me where you’re going.
Pay close attention to the game when you’re on the bench. Whether you’re a sub at the beginning of the game or a starter at the end of a game, you owe that to your coaches and your teammates.
Think about those who didn’t make the team when you learn that you did make the team. Be happy, humble and quiet. Control your excitement until you can celebrate without hurting anyone.
Give a thought to the coach who agonized over making those cuts. Think about the difficulty the coach had deciding who to keep and who to lop. Cutting people is never easy.
Save every team picture you’re lucky enough to appear in — and on the back of the photo record the names of all your coaches and teammates.
Try to read former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden’s marvelous book, “They Call Me Coach” before you begin coaching any sport at any level. Doing this will help you to realize the responsibility that accompanies the honor of being called “Coach.” Almost all those lucky enough to earn the honor of being called coach know that it is the highest form of respect.
Don’t just take a child fishing, take a child fishing where there are fish to be caught. Catching fish is magic, and kids don’t care whether they’re hooking carp or kibbies.
Make every effort to see every game your child ever plays.
Keep your thoughts to yourself during those games, and allow your child to listen to his or her coach. Coaches deserve that, and parents should know that.
Know when it’s time to stop writing.