Play Ball! You might learn something.

While it’s not too difficult to quantify the expenses incurred while raising our kids (currently estimated at as much as $250,000 to raise a kid from birth to 18 in the US – not including college), it’s much harder – nigh on impossible – to quantify the time,
effort and emotional investment.

Never is this more apparent to me than in the summertime – during the little league baseball season.

Math facts aside, I estimate that to date, counting both my boys, I have spent nearly a million hours at little league practices and ballgames, with years left to go.

What justifies investing that kind of time in sitting around doing nothing except watching little kids play ball?

Honestly, I’m an action-driven, goal oriented, hard-working professional. Sitting and doing nothing goes against my nature. But year after year, there I am, at the ball field – just watching the boys play ball. What kind of return can I expect from such a significant investment?

The return, of course, is also not quantifiable, because, player or parent, we can all learn from the dynamics of a little league baseball team:

Keep swinging. You’ve got to take your shot. If you don’t swing, you’ll strike out every time. When it’s your turn at bat, you must have the courage to keep swinging and not give in to the fear of striking out.

Keep your head in the game. So you don’t get surprised and screw up a play. Or miss an opportunity.

Keep your eye on the ball. The ball symbolizes a goal. If you let your mind wander, you could miss your chance to make the game winning play.

Persistence matters. A batting average of .300 means you hit the ball 3 times out of every ten. This teaches that lots of times, you’ll fail before you succeed. The real life application: make ten cold calls and you might get three appointments.

Give it 110%. Or 125%. To win, everyone has to do their best at their assigned task (or position). Kids play hard when they play ball, and even if they don’t realize it, they keep on trying when they want to give up because they don’t want to let their team mates down.

Eventually, our little sluggers grow up. They’ll take the lessons they learned on the little league fields and translate them to their adult lives. We’ll have a next generation who are responsible, respectful and who never give up – all because they don’t want to let their “team” down.

Ultimately, that’s the return on the investment of all those hours spent at the park watching my boys play ball. Completely unquantifiable by any metric in any matrix. But priceless all the same.

Play ball!


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