Back when I was a kid – which is to say, a few years ago – “You Make the Call” was a recurring commercial during NFL games. The commercial would show a clip from an odd game moment, ask what the right call should be, go to a short IBM plug, then come back with the proper ruling. NFL Films actually did a piece on these great segments a few years ago:
I thought about those commercials after watching my oldest son umpire a little league game last week. He and the other ump – both in their early teens – had to make a call in a playoff game they knew was going to be unpopular with one team and their supporters. They discussed what to do, made their ruling, and stuck with it despite the jeers.
After the game, he spoke with the excellent head umpire – just a teenager herself – and talked through if it was the right call and what they should focus on next time.
I’m a big believer in sports as a great way for young people to learn life lessons in a lower-stakes environment. That goes for the roles around the game as well. On the way home that night, we talked through all the life skills he used. He communicated with a co-worker, problem solved, came to a firm decision, stuck with it despite the outside noise, discussed the results with his boss, and learned what to do should that unusual situation arise again.
Does that mean he’s going to be a model employee later in life? Of course not. However, I think the skills and lessons he’s learning now are pointing him in the right direction.
And just in case you’re wondering about the play that led to all of the above, it was somewhat similar to this: