I can't imagine a life where you only know one thing, and have mastered it the point where you're considered the best in the world at it.
I agree. I also think about young kids - high schoolers, etc - who are pushed to go pro directly from high school today. This is especially common in the NBA, but obviously happens in all sports, and it is terrifying. These kids know one world and one world only and are suddenly placed into a completely different world, sometimes with a signing bonuses and contracts that are worth more than their entire neighborhood. IMO, nothing good can come from this. At the very best, they have a lasting career in the NBA and learn valuable life skills that they can utilize outside the sport. The play, they coach or manage or assist or become a commentator something, they are engrained in the sport for life til death. The likelihood of this happening is slim to none. Much more likely is a few weeks / months where they push themselves too hard, get injured, and lose their entire career. Now what are they left with? A shoddy high school education, inability to play ball anywhere else since they've already played professionally, and a large sum of money that may or may not have already been spent.
I would say that A-Rod has an advantage over these kids, but I'm not sure by how much. Is it easier to be 20 years old and have your life ripped from under you, or fly high for 20 years professionally and then have it ripped from under you? Being 20 years old and have to start college (if you have the opportunity and means) after a false-start of pro-sports would be a massive obstacle. Starting college at 40 with all the knowledge you have acquired seems much more reasonable, once you get past the embarrassment and self-consciousness. However, sometimes it seems like A-rod is a 40 year old stuck in a 20 year old's mind. Did he ever take the time to learn anything while playing baseball? Or did he waltz through, never experiencing any hardships or dealing with life? Can he take his experiences and reflect on them now to learn? Does he have an advantage in that sense? I don't know.
Watching my brother's experience, it's mind boggling how much stuff goes on behind the scenes, how much help they get - directly or indirectly, and how little people know about this world. I'm not talking about big cheating scandals or fake grades either - as far as I know he experienced neither of these. But, simply having a network of teammates, classmates, coaches, administrators that are there to help you has a drastic effect on how making it through schools, systems, classes, etc goes. Some of it is for very good reason. Anyone who has been to college knows its impossible to get a good schedule and either classes overlap, classes aren't offered during certain semesters, etc. I know I spent hours and hours alone in my room with a multitude of tabs open, making notes about classes and times, trying to figure out which group of 5 I could take that semester. It was a motherfucking puzzle. And then you had to do it all over again when registration for a class was already full.
When you add in 6 hours of scheduled baseball training each day, 3 hours of mandatory "study hall" twice a week, and travel days during regular season, it would be impossible for any of these kids to get classes completed. However, since they have this network of people, they find ways to do it...together. Someone finds a way to make it work and shares it with the rest of the team. One example is the entire baseball team completed their mandatory language requirements by taking Italian, which happened to be a weird class that didn't fit in the normal blocks of class time. This allowed them to do lifting / pitching / running in at 6am, have Italian right after that, and then take an afternoon class on the normal time schedule, and make it to afternoon field practice from 4pm-7pm. While not cheating or skating by or any massive advantage, the little things add up. When you do this over and over again - from laundry to classes to housing etc. etc. etc. - it becomes standard to hand off any frustrating, aggravating task that you don't want to deal with. And that makes it hard to enter the "real world" once those advantages are taken away from you.
Without a bit of realism, engrained morals, and a well-adjusted upbringing, it would be very easy to fall into taking a passive and spoiled approach to life or blatantly requesting and receiving anything and everything. As we've seen with the cheating scandals, the amount of help you get as a athlete or student-athlete vary drastically.
Losing a father at a young age is a traumatic experience, and it really does influence and drastically alter how you end up looking at the world and how you can learn more about what it means to be a person of integrity, or whatever else it is you're looking for
I agree with this as well. I didn't lose my father, or anyone close to me, at a young age. But everyone I know who has is drastically affected by it, and not always in the ways you would imagine. I call them little glitches or bugs sometimes because the tiniest little ideas that really don't have a huge reach on your overall life, can get "stuck" and suddenly they do have a huge reach for these people.
Quoting Rodriguez is like dropping a Mento into a Diet Coke. It makes a big whoosh, everyone gets excited, for about three seconds, and then it's just a mess, and you wonder what's been accomplished, besides some stickiness, and maybe a permanent stain.
This is one of my favorite passages - but there are far too many to quote them all. Such great writing.