The Breakdown: Here’s to mom
There’s an old saying in sports that the only person who cares when you finish second is your mom.
In a way, that’s true, because when it comes down to it, there’s really no bigger supporter than mom ” especially in sports.
While stories often chronicle the famous relationships between athletes and their fathers (i.e. Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, etc.), the roles of their mothers often get downplayed (or unplayed). I don’t recall hearing too much about the impact that LeBron James’ mom had on his career, even though she raised him as a single parent. And nowhere near enough is said about Woods’ mom instilling her Buddhist discipline in her son from an early age.
For the most part, moms have been relegated to the sidelines. Sure, they’re good for a quick TV shot of them cheering or a cliche interview saying how proud they are ” a la Mama Phelps in the last Olympics ” but there’s never really any substance to it.
In a lot of cases, though, mom is just fine with it; she’s there to support her kid, not soak in the spotlight.
Maybe that’s why the impact that moms have gets overlooked. I don’t really know. The one thing I can say, though, is that a mom’s support certainly plays an integral part in sports.
Think of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. A lot was made of his inspirational story around the time of this past Super Bowl. In case you don’t remember, here’s a summary: Fitzgerald’s mom died of cancer while he was playing in college at the University of Pittsburgh. To this day, Fitzgerald keeps his mom’s driver license in his wallet and even keeps his hair long as a constant reminder of her. Even though his dad is a well-respected sports writer ” which allowed young Larry to hang around Minnesota Vikings practices and get tips from the likes of Chris Carter ” Fitzgerald credits his mom and her unfortunate death as being the driving force behind his career.
That’s just one example, and I’m sure that pretty much every athlete could tell you quite a bit about how their mothers shaped who they are.
I’d have to say that in my own experience, my mom played just as big of a role in my sports growing up as my dad did. Sure, It was my dad that taught me to skate, swing a club and throw a ball, but my mom was the one who always kept sports in perspective for me.
My mom never played sports growing up and really never gave them much thought until my brothers and I started playing, but that didn’t stop her from being at pretty much every game or tournament I ever played. I remember her driving me to 5 a.m. hockey practices, cheering in sub-zero temperatures at my football games and somehow not being bored watching my golf tournaments.
The biggest thing about my mom, though, was that she enjoyed my sports because I enjoyed them. She supported my sports because she knew it was important to me. It was never about if my teams won or lost, or if I played good or bad. If I threw four interceptions in a football game, my mom would have greeted me by saying how well I handed the ball off to my running backs. If I three-putted my last hole in a golf tournament and lost by one, my mom would have told me how great I did for getting to that point.
And, yes. When I came in second, I can tell you that my mom definitely cared.
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