Youth soccer (football to some) sign ups have started in my neck of the world. It’s interesting how many kids sign up at ‘lil q’s age. Like almost every kid 6 and under signs up to play. Over time, however, the number of kids playing declines. By the time you get to early teens, the ten or fifteen teams you start with declines to one or two. Instead of playing in a local town league, the teams have to travel and play teams from other town leagues. Those consolidate as well and kids on different leagues play for the same school. This goes on until only the best make it to the pros.
I’m a big baseball fan – The fact I used a baseball in the graphic for my Monday Running The Bases feature on my blog is a bit of a giveaway. We’re lucky to have two pro teams within an hour’s travel of my house. We also have a few minor league teams. I prefer the minor league games for a lot of reasons; it’s much cheaper, it’s closer, we get better seats, and they are more family friendly. They have things to entertain the kids that pro teams don’t. And while ‘lil q is otherwise entertained, I actually get to watch the game.
For those who aren’t familiar with minor league baseball, the players only get paid during the season – which runs March through the end of August. They get paid something ridiculous like $1200-$1700 a month and because of their schedule, they can’t get part time jobs during the season. (So that’s half the year) If they were lucky, they got a signing bonus they could bank and use to cover a few years of living expenses. Many of the players, especially at the lowest levels, live in hosted housing provided by fans during the season. All for the chance to make the pros – maybe.
For those who I haven’t lost yet and are still reading, I promise I’m going somewhere with this post. A major league team has 24 players. The triple A teams (the step below the majors where they send replacement players in case a starter is hurt) have 24 players. Below that there are six or seven more minor leagues clubs for each pro team where all the hopefuls toil away at below poverty wages, hoping to make it big. If by a certain age you’ve not made it to the big show, it’s highly unlikely you ever will. The trick is knowing when to gracefully hang up your cleats before you are told it’s time.
Writing is a lot baseball. Most everyone tries their hand at it as a kid, many continue with it for a time, some keep at it for longer, but only a few will do it well. Like baseball, to be really good takes time, effort and perseverance. But even if you do all of that, there are no guarantees. You never develop the power to hit home runs, you miss too many breaking balls and strike out too much, or too often your pitches are wide.
The end of a season is a good time to reflect on what’s happened and where things stand. Is there room for improvement or is it time to hang em up with grace? August 31st is right around the corner. There will be a lot of soul searching among those who’ve toiled for a while and not gotten the call. The struggle to keep pace is hard. It’s harder when you toil, but don’t advance. And never forget the long line of hopefuls waiting to step in and prove their mettle.
August 31st is coming.
Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.
Since devouring The Lord of the Rings as a preteen, he has been a fan of all things fantastical. His imagination has helped him create works of high fantasy, paranormal thrills and touch of the futuristic. He also writes the occasional contemporary story.
He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his husband of twenty-two years. Together they are raising their pre-school age daughter and three dogs. Andrew tries to squeeze writing time in around his most important jobs, being husband and ‘Papa.’ Along with teaching how to kick a soccer ball or ride a scooter, he has become fluent in cartoon characters and children’s books. To find out more about Andrew, his writing and his family, follow him on his website or on Facebook.
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