Football, cheerleading, soccer, lacrosse, baseball—the sport doesn’t really matter. The view from the bench is the same for all sports. It is the hardest view a young athlete has to deal with. That being said, it is also the view that teaches important life lessons.
My son has played baseball since he was five. Little league, travel teams, middle school, and now high school. For the first time, and the reason why doesn’t really matter, he spends more time on the bench than on the field. As a parent, it is probably one of the most difficult things to watch. Listening to other parents cheer for their children, patiently waiting for your turn. As much as you don’t want to, the feelings of anger and envy creep inside you. I have to constantly remind myself what I have always said . . .
“It’s not about the game, it is about the life lessons.”
Yes, life lessons. You will not always like or agree with your boss. You do not always get what you deserve, or think you deserve. Hard work does not always pay off the way you think it should and life doesn’t always reward you for trying your best. That’s because life is not fair.
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That’s right life is not fair. As parents we have said this phrase many times to our children, whether over the last piece of cake or whose bedtime is 15 minutes later. We know our children must learn this harsh reality, we try to prepare them for it, but are we ever really ready to stand by and watch them experience it? Not easy for sure.
Bench lessons are immeasurable.
In a society where instant gratification is so prevalent, these young athletes are learning that success can take more than a minute’s worth of effort. Patience and persistence is a learned behavior. They are learning that no matter how hard you work, someone is working harder, so you must push forward and not give up. Just when you think you have given it your all, you must give more because life is not fair.
These young athletes are learning that being part of a team is just that, part of a whole. You do not try to knock someone down on the team to raise yourself up. You dig deep, looking for ways to improve in your craft, but at the same time keeping in mind that the success of the team must come first. That’s right, your needs do not always come first—an invaluable lesson learned.
Life lessons are just that, lessons about life.
As adults, we know this time passes quickly, way too quickly. We know the championship games end and the trophies eventually get placed in a box.
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What we need to remember as we are sitting in the stands watching our children is that we are not only watching a game. We are watching our children obtain some of the qualities they need to become responsible, hardworking, compassionate adults. Isn’t this what every parent wants? Maybe the view from the bench isn’t so bad after all.