Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams once said, “All I want out of life is that when I walk down the street folks will say, ‘There goes the greatest hitter that ever lived.’” My goal is similar, but it’s related to basketball instead of baseball, and maybe on a smaller scale: I want my children to say, “There goes my dad, the greatest 3-point-shooter in the neighborhood.”
This summer, I shot baskets all by myself just about every morning, before anyone else in my family was awake. At first it was just for fun, and because my doctor said I should get more exercise. But as I started tracking my attempts in sets of 50, I noticed that I was making more and more of them. I started averaging about 17 makes and felt proud when I made 20 out of 50. Then I hit 25, and I was so thrilled I smiled on my entire drive home, and I barged into the house to tell my sleepy wife and children all about my personal record.
Each set of 50 contained many moments of drama, as I sometimes had to make my final shot just to reach my goal. I told my 8-year-old daughter, Kennedy, about one such moment: “So I’m sitting at 29 out 49, and I’ve never hit 30 out of 50 before. I jog over to the top of the arc, and I let the ball fly, and it’s soaring through the air — remember, if I make this, it’s a new personal record — and there it goes toward the rim — and in! Thirty! Can you believe it?! Isn’t that exciting?”
Kennedy responded with one word: “Boring.”
My quest for the admiration of my children was hitting a major road bump.
As the summer ended, it has become harder to keep my schedule, and, a few times, I shot baskets instead of helping with the morning routine as my younger children prepared for the first few days of school. Not ideal, but my wife, Hailey, encouraged me to keep up with my basketball workouts. She knows it makes me happy, and the exercise is still important, even if I have to miss out on helping with the kids in the morning. Doctor’s orders, right?
Still, it was starting to feel like this routine was going to have to end.
On Saturday, Aug. 19, I went to shoot at the hoop at my church. For the first time in months, I didn’t count my attempts.
And partway through, I saw that I was not alone in the building anymore: Some of my friends from my congregation were there, too, because it was their turn to do the vacuuming and scrub the toilets.
I couldn’t very well keep shooting and let them do all the work. So I paused my timer, grabbed a vacuum and cleaned a hallway and a few rooms.
A thought came to mind: I want my children to say, “There goes my dad, the kind of person who would help clean the church even when it wasn’t his turn.”
That’s not to say that my basketball days are over. But I will probably be more selective when I take time away from my children to play. Given my age, not to mention my height, an NBA contract is, shall we say, unlikely anyway.
In the end, giving my children hugs before school is more important than tracking my stats. But for what it’s worth, if you’re curious, my all-time high is 35 makes out of 50 attempted 3-pointers. Are you smiling? I’m smiling.