This Mother’s Day I would like to take the time to tell people how my mother gave me one of the greatest gifts of all through sports. The ability to read: From the book “Sports Talk Radio Is A Waste of Time (And so is this Book)”:
“Growing up I used to always get asked the same question. “Aren’t you interested in anything other than sports? What are you going to learn about the real world if all you look at and read about is sports?” Well let me say this. Sports got me through school. Not because I kept my grades up to stay eligible in high school, which I did. No, sport got me through school, because I applied it to my studies and used it to open levels of curiosity that I may have never thought of without it. So let me answer to those who asked what I learned with the help of sports.
The first, and most important, thing that I learned with the help of sports was how to read.
When I began school, I was very shy and not a good reader. In kindergarten and first grade we never read much in the way of books. We usually got a few sentences to study and that was it. Then in the second grade we were given our first reading books and placed in groups. Our teacher was as tough as they come and I remember early in the school year she had each of us pick a story out of the book and read it aloud to the class. I picked the only story which had to do with sports. I stuttered and stammered through it and couldn’t wait to finish. When I did, my teacher didn’t mince any words. She told me that I had done a terrible job. For what seemed like forever she told me in front of everyone in the group how basically I couldn’t read. Even though she told me that I could do much better I was crushed. But I was also determined that I was going to do better the next time I read in front of that class. The problem was that I wasn’t interested in reading about anything other than sports.
Fortunately, I had a mother who was part time librarian at the school I attended. I don’t know if the teacher, who lived down the street from us and went to school with my father, told my mother about my reading. I do know that my mother knew how crazy I was about sports. So all of a sudden these books began showing up at our house. Books that my mother told me were specifically for me to read. Every one of them was about sports.
Every week there was a children’s biography in my mother’s arms when she walked in the door. Books about Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, John Unitas, Henry Aaron, Jim Brown and Gale Sayers. I would grab them from her and look at the pictures first. Than I wanted to know what the words under the pictures were. Then I wanted to know what the words were being written about these athletes. Whenever I had questions about a word, I would ask my mother and she would help me to pronounce it. Then I would take the books to school and my friends and I would read them together helping each other with the words and names we couldn’t pronounce.
As the year went on, my reading improved. Recently on Mother’s Day, my sister pulled out some old report cards that Mom had kept from elementary school. One of mine was from the second grade. In the end of the year notes my teacher had written that I had improved greatly in reading. She wrote that if I continued to apply myself that I would get even better. I knew that she meant it, because as I said earlier this woman didn’t mince words.
My third grade report card said that I was reading above grade level. By now, I was reading about a lot more than sports. And just as my second grade teacher had said I got better and better. By high school, I had to prove to some of my teachers that I was actually reading my assignments, because I’d finish so far ahead of my classmates.
To this day, I enjoy reading. I have two shelves of books and magazines with plenty in boxes until I can buy a third. And I read about a lot more than sports. All because a mother was smart enough to see that her son had the ability to do something and just needed the right stimulus, sports, to accomplish it. I am forever grateful to her for that.”
I am grateful to my Mom for many things. Every one of them done out of unconditonal love for her children.
And we let her know it every Mother’s Day.