Commitment comes with price tag paid by young athlete

Commitment comes with price tag paid by young athlete

By Bob Frisk Daily Herald

I took piano as a kid, but I can’t remember if I ever argued with my parents about getting involved with all those lessons.

Did I really want to learn how to play, or was this just something my parents put out there as an offer I couldn’t refuse?

Dad was a pretty good piano player, and as I recall, he could play by ear. He would hear a song and then often translate it perfectly to the piano.

What I do remember about my piano days was the sheer panic I felt as I sat on stage for every recital.

I remember one recital in particular at Recreation Park in Arlington Heights that I worried about for weeks. I had to play “American Patrol,” music that was popular before World War I and regained that popularity in World War II because of Glenn Miller and his orchestra.

I didn’t do a bad job, but that was the end of my piano days. That was my last recital.

I didn’t have the commitment to continue, and that’s something I regret to this day.

One of the most popular members of my Sigma Pi fraternity at the University of Illinois was a man named Jerry Algeo. He could play the piano very well and was in demand whenever we had visitors to the house or did something with a campus sorority.

He obviously had grown up with the commitment to become a good piano player, and it paid off with his enormous popularity in college.


There’s that word again.

I had some interest in the piano in those early days, but I would not commit myself like Algeo to do all the work that was necessary to become very good.

I think you know where I’m heading with this.

Interest vs. commitment.

As we get involved in the spring sports season and approach the end of another school year, interest vs. commitment is a worthy subject.

It’s a subject to consider whether you’re a graduating senior or an underclassman with more sports competition ahead.

It’s a subject to consider throughout life.

How do I define commitment?

It’s is a voice within the individual that says, “I have the interest in the sport, but I know I am not all that I can be. I will become better. Nothing will stand in the way of perfecting my skill and talent. I will do whatever has to be done in order to grow. This is a personal promise on my part that can’t be broken.”

Commitment is going the extra step when everything in you is screaming at you to quit.

Commitment is getting up every day and putting in those extra workouts when the rest of the world is asleep.

Commitment is never letting go, never giving up, never stopping, even when you’re tired and discouraged.

There’s no question that you can still enjoy your sport without personal commitment. But you will never be great at it.

Commitment carries no guarantees, but it is the only path to take if you want to even consider greatness.

If you think about it, commitment always brings success.

It obviously gives you a chance to become outstanding at your sport, but in the very act, you can achieve a real victory of spirit.

It gives you the knowledge that you can plan a goal for yourself and work for something worthwhile and good.

Commitment brings a self-assurance that carries over into all aspects of your life.

Interest alone is fine. Interest is what brings you as a young athlete to sports in the first place. Interest in sports will enrich your life.

If you can’t make the serious commitment, then don’t. There’s nothing wrong with that.

However, if you look within yourself and have a desire to excel, a desire to be more than just an average athlete, then you must make a commitment.

If you truly believe you can make it, that you must make it, then do what has to be done.

Do you have what it takes to make that commitment?

It’s a question only you can answer.

If I had stuck with the piano all these years, I might be wowing friends today with The Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

OK, let’s not get carried away.

However, I’d definitely be pounding out a jazzier version of “American Patrol.”

April 4, 2008