Sunday, April 5, 2015
In 2008, former baseball player Mike Matheny wrote a letter to parents who asked him to coach their sons on a youth baseball team. The letter pulled no punches and questioned many of the excesses of youth sports. He told parents that for their sons to be on his team he would require respectful parents, players willing to move around the diamond and persistence. Later, the letter would become a sensation online. And even later Matheny would move from youth coach to manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager's Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life by Mike Matheny with Jerry B. Jenkins discusses how Matheny came to his sports philosophies and what they mean to him. Matheny breaks down his own upbringing, youth career, college years and eventual break in Major League Baseball. Likewise he discusses how he went from retired player to big-league manager. He provides this story while breaking down the concepts that were found in his parent letter including leadership, confidence, teamwork, faith, class, toughness, character and humility. All of this is told from his view.
I am a Chicago Cubs fan, and on this opening day of baseball all I really want is Mike Matheny to lose. Sorry Mike! Yet, I have been unable to dislike Matheny to the same extent as his predecessor I think much of this has to do with the poise he has shown on the field and his character. As a youth coach, in another sport, I did look to see what I could apply to my own style. And I will not promise that I will not yell (I have some corny encouraging phrases) but I will continue to make clear to parents, following Mike's example, that I am more concerned with who our players are over how they play. Matheny is right, we have let youth sports get out of control. Recently a friend was thrown out of youth basketball game from the stands. And we do need to take stock in the people we are helping to become adults and the lifetime skills they will earn.
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