We’re seeing an alarming trend among coaches of elite athletes in all sports today: recruiting their talent rather than building it. After all, in an environment that celebrates winning above all else, teaching the fundamentals takes too long. Why develop talent when you can recruit it? Why spend time in injury prevention drills, strengthening and fitness when you can quickly replace the injured player with a healthy one?
Why? Because these are kids, not commodities. Treating them as something to be thrust aside when something better comes along is devastating now and for the future. And to the favored player it says, you’re worthwhile only while I can use you. Go ahead and step on everyone else on your way up, but watch your back.
Investing time and energy in teaching the game and all it has to offer our young athletes is expensive. It costs our time, patience and energy. Some might say our blood, sweat and tears. But it’s worth it, and not just in the long run. It has payback now. We get to watch these young people grow in healthy directions, plus, if we let them they’ll teach us how to be better teachers and coaches. They’ll even grow us into the parents they need and we’re supposed to be. That’s a pretty big return on our investment.
So let’s dedicate ourselves to developing our young athletes so we don’t lose them from sport. Let’s build them for the future, which likely won’t include a professional team paycheck. But when they pay our investment forward, giving back to the teams and the kids and the sport, that’ll be a pretty hefty payday.
Let’s train up what we’ve been given and be satisfied. Because trading, as Wall Street has so recently shown us, is a dangerous and risky business.