Pushing Vs. Encouraging

Posted by Tom Locke on August 11th, 2017 filed in Business, History, Life, Sports ... All Sorts

In reflecting back on my upbringing, one thing I always admired about my Dad was how he supported me in the various sports I played.

He really understood sports, especially baseball, which was and still is my favourite. My Dad  never openly criticized me or pushed me but did not shy away when I asked for his advice on my play.  His observations for the most part were right on and were presented in an honest, positive manner.  There was never any pressure.

I wish that had been  the case for some of my peers and some of the young kids that I coached and umpired for over the years.  I truly believe that their parents had great intentions but got caught up in “Johnny excelling” at all costs as opposed to “Johnny enjoying”. It was as if they were living their dreams vicariously through their children.

In June of this year, we lost one of the true characters of baseball, Jimmy Piersall. Piersall played 17 years in the major leagues and was always in the newspapers because of his on and off field antics.

In 1952, his second year as a regular in the  major leagues, he was admitted to the hospital for “nervous exhaustion”.  Today his condition is recognized as bipolar disorder.

With the desire to share  his medical condition, in 1955, Piersall released his book ‘Fear Strikes Out’, co-authored by Al Hirshberg. It became the subject of a 1957 movie version with the same title, in which Piersall was portrayed by Anthony Perkins and his father by Karl Malden.

Even though Piersall eventually disowned the film because of what he saw as its distortion of the facts, including over-blaming his father for his problems, the film was very impactful.

My Dad got me to watch this film  on TV in the mid 60’s. He sure got his point across about encouraging your kids instead of pushing them to be better and better.  If I could have reached into the TV during the film and punched Karl Malden in the nose, I would have.

Over the last 50+ years, I have seen a few“Karl Malden’s” on the sports fields and in arenas and I don’t hesitate to go up to them and politely ask if they have seen the movie, ‘Fear Strikes Out’.  And on three occasions I have been subsequently thanked by those who viewed the film.


One Response to “Pushing Vs. Encouraging”

  1. Craig Freifeld Says:

    Excellent blog Tom. While a serious topic and thoughts we share, Your typical humour came through wanting to punch Karl Malden in the nose!

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