Parents Must Be Honest With Their Child Athletes And Be Real With Themselves

By Gregory Moore
Updated: July 2, 2007

NBA Draft SAN ANTONIO — The NBA Draft has come and gone and there are basically 32 young men who are now instant millionaires. For them, this was as good as any state lottery and that is something that is a great feeling for them and their families.

Now comes the hard part; keeping the dream as pristine and as sanctified as when it was first told to a family member many moons ago. Now comes the reality that in the real world, your dreams are only as relevant as the boundaries that you put them in.

So while these young men now start learning how hard it is to be wealthy, their families must now also comes the realization that honesty is going to be their best policy in all family matters. If they took this stance in the beginning, then everything will be fine.

However, we are about to find out in the next coming months and decades that some members didn’t subscribe to this theory and there could be a few tragedies about to take place.

Parents of these young men and parents of the thousands of other athletes who are currently amateurs but who will one day become a professional athlete need to understand that being in this fraternity isn’t a right someone gave them or their child. Being an exceptional athlete is both God given talent and hard work put in by the individual. For any parent to say that they made their star athlete is disrespecting the very person they are proud of.

Sure, they may make numerous sacrifices but who do you think will make the ultimate sacrifices of getting better, getting coaches to notice them and one day shaking the hand of a professional sports league commissioner? In my 14 years of covering sports and in covering pro sports in general, I have never seen a parent go up and shake the hand of any sports commissioner.

I don’t want to come down and say that every parent will be the demise of their athlete or that a family member will bring down the dream. That is not the purpose here. What is the purpose is for parents and athletes to realize that trying to reach the pinnacle of a dream is indeed hard work and it isn’t an easy road by any stretch of the imagination.

What needs to happen for any family that is in this position is to realize that there are life lessons being played out in front of you on a daily basis that you can take and learn from. From NFL football players being suspended for a myriad of criminal transgressions to reading about college and pro athletes having to deal with the realization that they are not above the law, these lessons are out there for these families to absorb and to make sure that they understand the consequences of irresponsible behavior and why it may be better to be “low key” in your public flamboyance rather than show the lack understanding that comes from this opportunity.

Even though I myself am in no position financially to understand and comprehend what many families with pro athletes, I did want to at least pass on some pearls of wisdom that many who are in their stratosphere of understanding have gave to me.

First and foremost I think every athlete no matter what their financial status or classification and what every family member of that athlete need to do is read two great books that explain how to be “wealthy”.

Thomas J. Stanley’s “The Millionaire Next Door” and “The Millionaire Mind” are two good books that can help athletes and their family members understand why many “millionaires” live ordinary lives and yet put their financial resources in perpetuating wealth for the generations after them.

For the families and athletes in the Black community, this is a concept that needs to be re-taught so that many will understand why it is not a normal thing of spending money for items that simply do not make you money or truly better the conditions you currently are in.

Another pearl I want to send out is that for those athletes who are now professional and are getting the salaries of their dreams, learn to become businessmen and understand the difference between a “salaried” employee and a contract employee.

Pro athletes are not salaried they are contract. That means that if the employer, meaning the team you play for, wants to trade you or terminate your contract, they can. If you do not live up to your contractual obligations, a team will terminate your services. These athletes and their families need to read the contract that is signed, the bylaws and guidelines as set forth by the league that they are now a part of.

Finally, the last pearl I want to leave with these individuals is that no matter how successful you are never forget that the best success that one can ever achieve is to be an asset to one’s community. Whether a professional athlete gives his time or his money, if they are constantly a negative splotch, they are not doing the community a service but they are becoming a hindrance and detriment to everyone who is trying to do something positive.

The last bit of advice is to always try to be a positive influence and remember that respect is something that is earned not given. A good friend sent me an e-mail with some very sage advice and I want to pass it on:

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

2. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

3. Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

4. When you say, “I love you,” mean it.

5. When you say, “I’m sorry,” look the person in the eye.

6.. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

7. Believe in love at first sight.

8. Never laugh at anyone’s dream. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.

9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live life completely.

10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

11. Don’t judge people by their relatives.

12. Talk slowly but think quickly.

13. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, “Why do you want to know?”

14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

15. Say “God bless you” when you hear someone sneeze.

16. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson .

17. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.

18. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

19. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

20. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

21. Spend some time alone.

This is something that I hope I can live by myself. And for all those families who are now about to live the dream of many years ago, I hope you and your star athlete find nothing but success in your journey.