Expiration Dates and Giants

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There are two things that are certain:  birth and death.  Of these certainties, death reminds us that everything has an expiration date.  Most often, expiration dates give us an opportunity to pace our consumption and/or approximate the shelf life of perishable goods.  (Un)Fortunately, Father Time does not stamp us with an expiration date upon arrival, leaving us with a sense of urgency to find meaning and memory.  Urgency to belong, urgency to stay, and urgency to be remembered when we finally expire.

Working in sport provides trophies, rings, and medals that seemingly portray us coaches as worthy of remembrance…worthy of being considered a giant in the field.  And everyone wants to “stand on the shoulders of giants”.  But what does this mean? This statement can describe a young coach’s decision to study under a mentor in hopes of a career jumpstart.  A jumpstart that affords the young coach an opportunity to learn from wisdom and shared experiences as opposed to hard knocks.

In this scenario, the less-experienced coach or apprentice receives most of the benefit.  So what’s in it for the giant?  Why would the more-studied, more-victorious coach share their wisdom with the next generation? Why work to create your own competition or replacement? Why take the chance of readying someone who may supersede your win-loss record and minimize your chance of being remembered in the long run?

Because no trophy shines forever.  These artifacts quickly patina and dull, leaving only legacy.  Legacy being the lasting imprint made on others around you.  Legacy, a living and breathing memory that continues to shape, mold, and advise future generations.  Advice that allows and urges the next generation to do better and outshine the trophies of today.  So don’t just let young coaches stand on your shoulders.  Hoist them up, steady their footing, and provide them the necessary support to jump.