While it is the holidays, there is something I’ve been reflecting on for a while. It’s something my dad and I have been doing for as long as I can remember and still do to this day, it’s called “% of the contract.”

I think it started when I was about seven years old and wanted a new baseball glove. As most of you know, gloves are not cheap and buying the right one can be a challenge. Of course, at that age I begged and pleaded with my dad to get the most expensive one. I told him I would fail if I didn’t have that specific glove. In fact, I think I told him that my life was going to end and all of my friends and players on my team would laugh at me if I didn’t get that glove. Looking back now, how could my friends laugh at me if I died…but that is besides the point. And of course, none of that was true, but I was only seven and didn’t know better. I had no idea what $100 really meant and didn’t understand the value.

It was all about having that glove, and how my dad should buy it for me if he truly supported my baseball career. From his perspective, he of course wanted the best for me, but knew I had no idea what it really meant to spend $100, especially on something like that. It was a lot of money that he could have been spending on other things for sure.

My dad being my dad, always tried to instill a lesson in these types of situations. So we…really he, came up with this approach — % of the contract. To this day, we still talk about it. He wrote up a contract that stated when I went pro…in any sport…that I would have to pay him 8.5% of what I signed for. At the time I said of course, I signed the contract and we bought the glove.

Over the years we amended that contract 100+ times — I played multiple sports growing up… 0.5% for basketball shoes…0.25% for batting gloves… 0.75% for football cleats and a new football, etc. It added up, and after a while I would owe him roughly 32% of my contract value when I signed on with a pro team. And by the way, I was going to sign for $2 million dollars, so 32% would be a lot of money!

It wasn’t until I was playing college ball that I really started to do the math or reflect on what it meant to be my dad…always amending our contact. For him, it was probably around high school, my senior year, that he started to appreciate the fun and good conversations around the contract.

For me, it was a commitment to give up something to get something…which eventually led to an understanding of making decisions…what do I need to give up to get something I want. I naturally started to be more grateful. For him, it gave him something to teach me…a conversation at parties…a smile that appeared on his face when he brought out a new contact for me to sign. He was already grateful.

I guess where I’m going with this is, the gift of being grateful goes both ways when it comes to being part of a sports family. Parents and kids should be grateful to each other.

Sometimes as kids we just want our parents and family to be there and make sure we are taken care of so we can play ball. We don’t appreciate them enough for what they do for us day in and day out just to keep us on that field or court. We don’t understand our parents’ sacrifice financially, or timewise. We are too young to understand it. And sometimes as a parent, we get caught up in the frustration and effort of having to go to a tournament every weekend eight months out of the year, or constantly taking our kids to practice. We wish our kids would just say thank you more often than they do.

Do me a favor and just think about this…

Kids — we should appreciate our parents and family for…

  • Being the personal 4:30 a.m. alarm clock to get us out of bed to go to practice or a tournament
  • Sitting in the car for two hours while waiting for practice to be over
  • Driving 90 minutes in traffic to get us to our game
  • Washing our filthy clothes and uniform at midnight knowing that we will be back at it the next day at 8:00 a.m.
  • Making a to-go breakfast before we get up, knowing that we will be running late and cranky and won’t want to sit properly at the table
  • Spending a ton of $$$$$….. enough said…
  • Leaving work early to make our game
  • Consistently remembering everything we will forget
  • Having two of everything, knowing we might lose “it” at any point
  • Giving up their own food and water on a hot summer day because we didn’t bring enough

Parents — we should appreciate our young athletes for…

  • Playing ball, if they weren’t, what would they be doing…or really…not doing?
  • The proud, over-the-top conversations we get to have with random strangers about our kids being athletes…usually about how amazing they are
  • The energizing thoughts about our kids getting to that next level of competition
  • Frankly, the bragging rights with friends, family and strangers and on Facebook
  • The natural high we get when our child does well
  • The commitment that it teaches them
  • The real world experiences they get, like working with a team and the impact of both selfish and unselfish acts

And that is just to name a few….

This holiday season, try to be grateful both ways. As parents we always want our kids to be more grateful, but try to just appreciate what they are giving you. And kids, try to just say thank you a little more often. I promise you, it will go a long way…Happy Holidays!

Being grateful goes both ways…