With all sports, from rec leagues to the World Cup, staying committed is worth the challenge

This has been one of the best months I’ve had in recent times.

Having been home for most of this past month’s World Cup games, I’ve been focused on making sure I was in front of a television at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to catch the day’s games.


I scheduled our morning workouts so they’d be done in time for the first game each morning. I’d start the drop-in sessions in the evening, with enough time to watch the afternoon game and make it in time for a kick around.

We shut down our vacation for a few hours on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week to watch the semifinal games.

Talk about commitment.

I haven’t shown that much interest in a television show since, well, four years ago at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

As much of a soccer head as I am, deep down I have always loved “American Football.”

I was so excited when in fifth grade I had the opportunity to play for the Fort Bragg 49ers. My dad coached and played football when I was a little kid.

Both my brothers were big football players and I was pumped about following in their footsteps when I got my chance.

My family had just moved back to the U.S. from spending almost three years in Brazil, where the only sport that was available to a young athlete was the beautiful game. After moving back in the early 1970’s to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the opportunity to continue my soccer career was about as probable as finding an agreement on anything in Washington these days.

So, when there were no soccer leagues to join, I turned to what my family knew best — football.

I had visions of being the next Johnny Unitas or Tom Matte, or, since I was on the 49ers, the next John Brodie or Steve Spurrier. But when I was assigned as an offensive guard as one of the biggest boys on the team, I made it through two weeks of practice before convincing my parents that it was time to move on.

That was one of the few times in my life I can truly say I was a “quitter.”

Where was my commitment? Hadn’t I been taught you should always finish what you start?

I must have driven my parents crazy enough to allow me to bow out but it has left an indelible mark on me ever since. In raising my own kids, I have tried my best not to be one of those “pushy” fathers that makes my kids get involved in things they don’t want to do, but I also have tried to instill in them the trait of finishing something they started.

Fulfilling one’s commitment is not just about the player finishing out a frustrating season. Commitments are expected from other parties including referees, coaches, and even parents.


Referees are expected to attend their scheduled games, be knowledgeable of the rules, and while there, maintain complete impartiality in making the calls even if one coach or set of parents is being more obnoxious than the others.

And believe me, that has to be hard to do.

Coaches show commitment by being prepared with a sound lesson plan of the skills and tactics that we will be working on in practice or utilizing in a game. We are expected to be on time, have the necessary equipment, and commit to be the best role model we can be for our players to emulate.

We have a commitment to the parents to provide a safe and loving environment for their kids to enjoy the game, and an obligation to the sports that we coach to teach the same passion to the kids that brought us into the game in the first place.

As parents, we aren’t off the hook either.

We’re expected to fulfill our financial commitment by paying our registration fees and player fees on time. We are also expected to be the ones to get our kids to practice and games on time, encourage them to work on their own at home, feed them the right food, and get them to bed early on the night before the game.

We are expected to have our kids fulfill their commitment to the team and its coaches and players by completing the season, even if we have a disagreement with the coaching staff.

Each level of sports requires a different level of commitment from the participants. It’s knowing how and when to be committed that can be a bit tricky. Communicating expectations early and often can be a key to success.

Former Starbucks CEO and Seattle Supersonics owner Howard Schultz once said, “When you're surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

How committed are you going to be?