First off, Big Props to by fellow blogger Kyle Wooden (http://blogs.guilford.edu/wooden) for coming up with the novel concept of writing player profiles for the entire team. Wish I had thought of that. Check out the first one at the link above about how #1 Jesse DeSanto loves to "churn da butter." Also, I'm a big fan of his spelling of the "Daw-g Pound." Now, onto my News Herald article for the week...
With the BCS Bowl season coming to a close tonight (Go Oregon!) I thought it would be a good time to address a question that I’ve been asked many different versions of over the years. That question being, “Do you play football?” along with the follow-up question of “With your size, why don’t you?” after I would answer the first question with a resounding, “No, I play baseball.” Simply put, the life of a football player was not for me.
I really began to think about this question this past July when I was working a football media event for the ACC where each team had players in attendance. Among some of the players I was guiding through media stations were T.J. Yates, Mark Herzlich and Tyrod Taylor. I noticed that these larger-than-life college athletes were my height with a body frame very similar to mine (minus the fact that the were all jacked). This had me thinking about what if I had I bought into football instead of baseball back when I was a kid. If I had spent the time in a gym that I spent in a batting cage or on a bullpen that would I also have their muscle size or girth? Thinking about this that day gave me a sense of disappointment; a sensation that lasted less than five minutes.
Had I gone into football just because of my size then I would have been settling into a sport that I didn’t truly love. It’s not that I hate football but I never cared for the lifestyle that went along with it. I never enjoyed playing a sport where coaches are yelling at you 98 percent of the time, where practices began in mid-July while wearing 20 pounds of equipment, and where you only play one game a week. Throw in the fact I felt fear when stepping onto a football field compared to the comfort and joy I feel when I step on a baseball, diamond it wasn’t too hard to convince myself I had made the right decision.
One of the biggest reasons I preferred baseball over football was simply the amount of skill that went into training for the game. Any 200-300 pound guy can be a blocking lineman while the faster versions of those big guys can be taught to tackle offensive players. With baseball, you are fine-tuning a skill that goes beyond brute force. The ability to hit an 80-90 mph ball, the ability to throw that ball accurate and fast at the same time. These are things that can’t be taught in a weight room and can’t be easily reinforced by a coach shouting at a player. These are skills that must be crafted individually. Sure, baseball is a team sport but the preparation that goes into playing this team sport is very much based on how much effort the individual puts into it.
The point I’m trying to make here is that just because a kid is tall doesn’t mean they have to play basketball and just because a kid is large they should play football. Kids need to be pushed towards the sport they love to play so that their likelihood of “burning out” is low. After all, because I was able to focus on sport I love, this tall, large, and sometimes slightly awkward/unorthodox man I turned out to be will still be pitching when baseball season rolls around. Had I “bet the house” on football years ago, I would most likely not be playing any sports today and just wishing that I had stuck with baseball.