On February 2, 2016

Lost in confusion

By Dom Cioffi

This past Saturday, my son and I were driving around in my truck talking about life. He was curious about the different jobs I had over the years so I gave him a brief review. He listened intently, asking various questions as they arose. Ultimately, he seemed unimpressed. Apparently, nothing I had done seemed thrilling enough for his tastes.

Finally, I switched gears and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. His response was typical for your average 11-year-old: “I think I’m going to be a professional athlete—either a baseball player or a basketball player. I haven’t decided which one yet.”

I imagine millions of kids have uttered this same desire when asked about future plans by their parents. And while some moms and dads probably add to this delusion by agreeing with their child, I opted for a different route.

Let’s make one thing clear: my son will never be a professional athlete. I don’t say this because I don’t believe in him, nor do I say it because I don’t want him to head down that path. I say this because the statistics against his making it to that level are so sufficiently weighed on the negative side that it’s easy to draw such a conclusion.

I also say this because in all my years of playing and coaching sports, I have seen a number of remarkably gifted athletes, and the most gifted player I ever had the pleasure of watching fell short in his attempt to become a pro. I witnessed firsthand the level of skill that this kid had; and he couldn’t make it. That truly taught me something about what it takes to make it to the top tier of the athletic spectrum.

My son has talent, but nowhere near that level. And since he was not blessed with epic height or a LeBron physique, he can’t rely on those factors either.

So, I explained to my son that, while being a professional athlete was an admirable goal and certainly a great career choice (for those that can make it happen), it was important not to get hung up on one particular outcome.

I then went on to outline how your typical professional athlete undoubtedly approached sports from a young age, reviewing terms like commitment, desire, work ethic and sacrifice.

Again, my son listened intently, but as I went deeper and deeper into the various aspects of professional success (highlighting things like 5 a.m. wake-up times, daily 10-mile runs and 3-hour gym stints), he seemed less and less inclined to buy in.

I was curious how my speech affected him so I waited for a response. He spent some time quietly staring out the window so I imagined that he was weighing what I had just said and contemplating whether he had the gumption to commit in the grand fashion I had outlined.

Eventually, enough time had passed so I finally inquired. “So,” I asked, “what do you think?”

“About what, Dad?” he responded.

“About becoming a professional athlete?” I replied.

“Ummm, I don’t think that’s gonna work for me now,” he said matter-of-factly.

I was concerned that I was too negative with the realities of professional sports so I apologized. He assured me that my honesty was appreciated but that he had just come up with a better idea. He then outlined a new plan that involved playing the lottery until he won a billion dollars at which point he would buy a professional sports team so he could bypass all the hard work and just declare himself a player.

I was about to launch into a diatribe about the evils of relying on the lottery system when I caught the smile on his face.

“Maybe I should be a comedian, Dad,” he sheepishly replied, which resulted in a good laugh for both of us.

This week’s film features the true life story of a man who also wanted to become something particularly difficult, but in his case, he would stop at nothing to see his dream fulfilled.

Set in Europe during the 1920s, “The Danish Girl” is the odd love story of painters Einer Wegener and Gerda Wegener. The two embark on promising artistic careers only to see their plans derailed when Einer begins to contemplate living life as a woman.

Credit must be given to lead actor Eddie Redmayne who once again immersed himself in an incredibly difficult acting assignment. Remember, Redmayne won the Oscar last year for portraying Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything” and now he’s vying for back-to-back wins with this assignment.

Check this one out if you’re interested in a period piece that delves into the boundaries of sexuality. It’s not the easiest film to watch at times, but it does offer an interesting (and historically intriguing) portrait of gender identity issues through one man’s struggle to feel complete.

A confusing “B-” for “The Danish Girl.”

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