We just had the National Football League Draft a week or so ago and I have to admit I watched it, wondering who my favorite team would pick. I also have to admit that it wasn’t all that thrilling to watch and because of that, I did a lot of writing or worked around the house only coming back to the TV when my team was on the clock.
I tried to put myself in the shoes of those players. I’m sure it was nerve-wracking for them. I’m sure it was wearisome for them. And I’m sure that even though some professed “not caring” as to who might draft them, they probably cared a great deal. And not only about who might draft them, but when they might be drafted.
When I worked as an assistant basketball coach at the collegiate level, my job was to evaluate talent based upon our upcoming needs. If I needed one point guard, I never just recruited one point guard. I actually recruited five, hoping that we’d be able to sign Number One or Number Two. The problem for me, and what actually drove me out of collegiate coaching, was that after signing Number One or Number Two, I’d have to inform Numbers Three, Four and Five that we were no longer interested in them. Very tough for me to do: dash a kid’s dream, see the look on their face, hear the hurt in their voice. It tore me up and as I said, that’s what drove me out of collegiate coaching.
Remember back in the good old days of having kids pick teams in PE class? Remember the agony of having to stand there wishing, hoping someone would pick you? I think of two guys I went through elementary with, Robert and Jim, who were always picked last. It didn’t matter what game it was, Robert and Jim were always picked last. Talk about dehumanizing and humiliating!
And now we’re in Prom Season.
I feel so very badly for those kids who want so very much to go to Prom, but no one asks them to go. They don’t want to go by themselves, not when all their friends are going “with someone.” Many of them hope, as do their parents, that someone would pick them. They hope, perhaps long for, just one night to put on a pretty dress and dance. To be one of the chosen. To be included. To be one of them.
I get the fact that not everyone will be chosen. Really, I get that. Probably many reasons for not getting chosen. It doesn’t lessen the pain of not getting chosen, to be on the outside looking in. It doesn’t lessen the hurt, the feeling of “I’m not worthy” and “I’m not good enough and perhaps even, “No one likes me” and “I’m not pretty.”
I also get the fact that there are differences in the NFL Draft and signing a letter of intent to play at a college and being asked to go to Prom. But there are some similarities too.
A dream ends. There is sadness and hurt. There is exclusion rather than inclusion. There is the feeling of “less than” and “not as good as” and probably a whole lot of other feelings that kids and adults have.
I guess we can chalk it up to, “That’s life!” I guess we can shrug our shoulders and say, “Sorry, but that’s what happens sometimes.” We might even say, “Life isn’t always fair!” or say, “That’s the reality of it.”
But it sounds far too cold to me. I don’t like it when kids get hurt. Not even a little bit. All kids need to be chosen. Sometime, anytime, they need to be chosen. Something to think about . . .