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What is the reason for our level of commitment?

April 30, 2012
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor ( , The Herald-Star

There are a lot of changes that will happen in a lot of lives in May.

Along with school being out and kids graduating, most athletic teams and individuals will finish their seasons with a loss.

Some will achieve the ultimate goal of standing atop the podium, so to speak.

Most, though, will have their collective hearts broken in one manner or another.

So, what happens after that.

Graduating seniors look forward to that August day when the van is packed and the move to college is made.

Returning high school athletes look forward to a summer that is filled with weightlifting, Legion baseball, travel softball and volleyball, open gyms for basketball and 7-on-7 passing scrimmages.

The summer days of sitting around Myrtle Beach are over.

Some athletes will take that week in Myrtle as the pinnacle to their summer and I understand that completely.

But, the summer is all about getting better in every aspect of our lives.

We tend to spend more time with the family, despite all the craziness that goes with summer athletics, mission trips, vacations and family chores around the house.

Young men and women pick colleges and majors for a variety of different reasons. Some want to stay close to home and others want to get as far away from it as possible.

For me, college was a six-hour drive from home.

I will say that majors cannot be chosen based on potential income.

Potential income has nothing to do with a quality of life.

Sorry, kids, money does not make you happy - regardless of what you have heard.

So, what happens to our level of commitment of what we do during the summer.

Is Legion baseball or summer softball really that important for graduating seniors?

Is weightlifting, 7-on-7 and summer basketball really that important for returning athletes?

How much more important is a tan to 500 jump shots or 500 swings off a batting tee?

How much more important is hanging out with friends compared to 1,500 crunches a week, hitting 2,500 range balls a week or running 20 miles a week to get ready for soccer.

For returning athletes, if you do not spend the summer getting better you, in essence, are getting worse.

That gives your team absolutely no help, but really is for the betterment of your opponents.

Com = with

Mit = a mission

To commit = with a mission.

What is your mission?

Is your mission all about you - "What's in it for me?"

Is your mission to put others first?

We all start the day and immediately think about all that we have to do that day.

At what point in the day does it stop being about us?

Is our attitude different waking up Monday morning compared to Friday morning?

How easy is it for a student to skip that college class in the auditorium with 400 of his or her closest friends?

Whether it is as a father, mother, sister, brother, coach, teacher, player, friend, student, band member, boss or staff member, we all should strive to get better each day. We should all strive to better someone's life each day.

As the lives of those around us get better, our lives get better.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" - Matthew 7:7

Back in the day, I was never at home during the summer.

We were either outside playing ball, or I was at summer basketball or summer football. We played ball and more ball and more ball. That's pretty much all we did.

There was no summer weightlifting back in the day.

Those three-sport athletes are really five-sport athletes once you factor in weightlifting and summer ball.

And, really folks, that is OK.

That will help their time management in college.

The story is that Texas Rangers standout Josh Hamilton went to manager Ron Washington in spring training and said that he was on a mission to play 156 games this season.

You can call that selfish, but, with his productivity, the more he is on the field for the Rangers, the better the outcome, it appears.

He is currently batting .388 with nine home runs, 24 RBIs and has scored 20 runs.

Yes, he needs to be on the field because he makes his team and teammates better.

Steubenville Big Red graduate Zach Collaros and Beaver Local graduate Derek Wolfe are prime examples what hard work, dedication and smarts can get you.

I am not saying that following that path will get you a shot in the NFL or Major League Baseball, but it sure didn't hurt.

Hard work, dedication and commitment does not ensure success, it just makes being successful a lot easier.

Take PGA Tour player Jason Dufner as an example.

He first came out on tour full time in 2007 and had one top 10 in his first 48 starts. He followed that up with 14 top 10s in the next 74 starts.

Dufner got his first win on tour Sunday by beating Ernie Els on the second playoff hole.

That is a lot of failure, folks, before the ultimate success in a regular Tour event.

That is commitment.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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