By Steve Kallas
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So what do we take away from Derek Jeter’s brilliant career as it relates to youth sports? Here are a couple of quotes from Jeter’s Yankee Stadium press conference before his final home game on Thursday, September 25.
After admitting that many players are more talented than he is, the captain said, “I don’t think anyone played harder. I don’t. Maybe just as hard.”
Later, he said, “Every single day I went out I tried to have respect for the game and play it as hard as I possibly could.”
For you old-time Yankees fans, Jeter’s quotes are a reminder of a quote from one of the greatest ballplayers ever: Joe DiMaggio. When asked, towards the end of his great career, about why he played so hard in a meaningless game, DiMaggio said, “Because there is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.”
SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR YOUNG ATHLETES OF TODAY?
Well, in a world where many players think it’s optional to run hard to first and think it’s cool to stand at home and admire a ball they’ve hit, it means that right from wrong dictates that you play hard all the time. It means that you always respect the game, that you never give up.
For Jeter, it was never all about the “flip” play, being Mr. November or being sixth on the all-time hits list. It wasn’t even about the five rings. For Jeter, it’s about playing hard, respecting the game and never giving up. THAT’S what young people should take away from Jeter’s career.
And that’s what you parents should impress upon your young children about the future Hall of Famer’s career.
In a world where most athletes try to make the game about themselves and try to draw attention to themselves, it was Jeter who deflected attention and only wanted to do one thing: help his team win. And by playing hard, by respecting the game and by never giving up, that’s exactly what he did for 20 years.
In the look-at-me 21st century, thank goodness we all got a chance to watch Jeter play baseball.
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