Thursday, October 30, 2008

Baseball (In) Heaven. . . .

So last night it happened. . . the Phils won the World Series! As the game went into the top of the ninth with the Phils up by a run and Brad "Lights Out" Lidge on the mound, I turned to my wife and tried to explain what it meant. "As a little boy, this is what you dream about," I said. "The dream has only come true for me once before. On three occasions I was nothing but teased. That's why I'm excited about what I hope's about to happen." She smiled at the little boy who had done the explaining. A few minutes later, we smiled together as a bunch of overgrown boys in flannel suits pig-piled in celebration. It was fun to watch.

I had a difficult time sleeping last night as a cascade of baseball memories flipped through my head. Like most people, I can chronologically chronicle my life with song titles from the world of popular music. My ongoing love for the brand of America's National Pastime played by the Phils has served me in the same manner. I can chronicle my life - remembering my age and where I was when. . . - with my baseball memories. My first time visiting Connie Mack Stadium. . . and several times thereafter. Remember when we went to Connie Mack with the church and the guy sitting behind my Sunday School teacher, Mr. Mock, spilled a watery beer from his paper cup all over the poor man? The "world" had literally touched and saturated a member of our group and Mr. Mock's shirt to the point where we smelled ice-cold Ballantine all the way home, and some in our group wondered what poor old Mr. Mock was going to tell his wife! That same night, my dad graciously purchased me a Foremost Wiener that I promptly drowned in spicy brown mustard. I cradled it carefully in my hand with a thin piece of tissue paper that had been wrapped around the bun by the vendor. I was so engrossed in the splendor of the game that I finished my dog and wondered where I had put the paper wrapper. I then realized that I had eaten a hot dog, a roll, some mustard, AND the tissue paper. It seems that there are baseball-watching memories (many sad - I'm a Phils fan, remember) that coincide with every year of my life. Then there were my high school and college years, complete with the dozens of trips down Broad Street to the Vet with the Phillies-watching quartet that included me, Randy, Curt, and Dick. Man, did we ever have fun. Then, we'd gorge ourselves on "soft pretzels! Five-for-a-dollar" purchased from any number of shady post-game parking lot characters who used their bare hands to break off those pretzels from the lines that filled their rusty old shopping carts. (We weren't as concerned about sanitation and disease back then.)

Childhood was also filled with baseball-playing memories. From our home-made diamonds and after-school backyard games at the Heilman's and Katz's, to my little league days at Alverthorpe Park, to Home Run Derby played in the front yard with a yellow plastic wiffle ball bat and humming wiffle ball (Off the front of the house is a single, low roof a double, high roof a triple, and over the roof a home run. . . . and, did you know that a wiffle ball can be hit hard enough to go through a window?), to the days when everyone else was on vacation and I was reduced to throwing pop-ups to myself in the driveway (every one of them the last ball hit in the two-out bottom-of-the-ninth of the 7th game of the World Series. . . and Oh how I remember the time "we" lost the game when that beat-up old rubber-coated hardball went past my outstretched glove to hit me square in my nose. . . which then bled profusely - game over), to evenings during high school and college spent shagging fly balls with my buddies Curt, Randy, and Dick.

To be honest, there were also those times in my adult life when I tried desparately to recover or at least catch a glimpse of what could have been (ie - my professional baseball career. . . come on. . . we all dreamed about that at one time). On my 40th birthday I wanted to see if I could still hit a ball. I took a couple of high school baseball players down to a full-size field in Marietta that sported a left-field fence with the same dimensions as Veteran's Stadium. Hit one out - I reasoned - and the dream could live on. The good news is that I put three balls off the left field fence on the fly. . . but none went over. Dream alive. . . sort of! Then seven years ago, a friend asked me to join his team for a good-old-fashioned game of hardball at a local field of dreams facility. After dressing in gray flannels in a barn next to the stadium, I got to catch, play third, and go into the outfield. The guest pro that day was Gaylord Perry, who just so happened to umpire and call me out on strikes (yes, he's blind). The good news was that during my first at bat I put one over the center fielder's head and to the wall. Dream alive. . . sort of! However, what should have been a triple turned into a double as the guy on base ahead of me was so slow that even I was able to catch up with him after rounding second.

Reality is that the dream was only ever far-fetched. I no longer watch the games and the players thinking, "Hey, I could do that." I'm even old enough to have moved beyond looking at the umpires and thinking, "Hey, I could do that." I've had to come to terms with the fact that perhaps the great majority of major league managers and coaches are. . . .well. . . . younger than me! . . . Thus leading me to conclude, "Hey, I'll never do any of that." Still, I continue to go out in the yard and throw the ball with Josh.

So here's where my baseball dreams sit today. . . and I don't think they are at all unrealistic. The Heaven so many of us look forward to isn't really what Heaven is going to be at all. Clouds, wings, streets of gold, harps, etc. That's not what we can expect. Don't get me wrong. There will be nothing to compare with being in the presence of the Lord for eternity. But those false notions of Heaven always struck me in my humaness as somewhat, dare I say, boring. Heaven will ultimately be the restoration of all that has been broken by sin here on the earth. I look forward to a new Heaven and new earth, all minus the horrible flaws that have become so familiar. And, I believe, there will be baseball . . . along with alot of other amazing things we never expected. A major league? I'm not so sure. Maybe. But the game? It will be there, and I'll be playing. It might not be pretty (my play, that is), but I know that I'll enjoy every minute of it!. . . . to an even greater and incomprehensible extent than I enjoyed watching that fun group of guys pile on each other last night.

If you're a Phillies fan and you found yourself last night celebrating by saying "It doesn't get much better than this!," you're wrong. It's going to be a whole lot better when our Heavenly Father opens the page on the Chapter in His story that's titled "Consumation". . . the one that follows the prior three chapters of "Creation," "Fall," and "Redemption." Everything will be awesome, including the baseball!

And the other day, I eyed up a low-priced bag of balls and nice wooden bat at Sports Authority. . . which I'm going to pick up for a long-overdue office game of Home Run Derby at our local ballfield. Who's going to hit the ball the farthest? We'll find out!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

May We Serve You? . . . .

I'm tired right now - really tired. I returned from four days in Pittsburgh that were absolutely exhausting, but absolutely energizing. I want to tell you about my trip with the hope that you might begin to think creatively about how CPYU can serve you and your community.

The vision for this trip was birthed several years ago by some folks at the North Hills Reformed Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. As they began to examine how to best utilize CPYU's presence not just as an event, but as a ministry tool, God opened doors for a relationship between the church and the Pittsburgh Alliance Against Drugs - a non-sectarian organization headed by some wonderfully passionate and energetic folks who want children and teens to be spared from the scourge of drug abuse and addiction. Working together, the church and the Alliance planned an aggressive schedule for my visit. As the plans were put together, other folks and institutions joined the effort, and what resulted was an absolutely amazing few days that are already serving as a springboard for further ministry in the Pittsburgh area, particularly in the public schools.

Here's what we did. . . .

Their preparation was amazing. They set up a website, scheduled interviews on major radio stations in the area, and blitzed Pittsburgh with publicity. In addition, the folks at the church prayed diligently, something that was very, very obvious during my time in town.

On Thursday morning I spent several hours with a large group of 8th grade students who have been indentifed as peer leaders on their respective public school campuses. Students came from over 15 districts, along with their teachers and counselors. I challenged and equipped them to think critically about their media choices, taught them how to process media through our brand new Minding Your Media 3(D) Media Evaluation Guide (based on character and virtue), and then sent them off with a charge to make a difference among their peers by teaching them to do the same.

We packed up and headed over to Eden Christian Academy, the second-largest Christian School here in Pennsylvania. My good friend and CPYU Board Member Sam Siple is doing an amazing job in leading an institution that is committed to teaching students to engage God's world from the perspective of a Christian world and life view. I spent the afternoon with all the middle and high schoolers, along with a large contingents of teachers and parents. What did we do? I used our faith-based version of our 3(D) Guide - How To Use Your Head To Guard Your Heart - teaching them how to make God-honoring media choices from the perspective of mindful critique as opposed to mindless consumption. It was a refreshing group of kids who are trying to find their way through adolescence and into a Godly adulthood. What a privilege it was to be with them!

By the way, with both of the aforementioned groups we focused on evaluating and discussing Katy Perry's new hit video, "Hot and Cold." It's well worth talking about!

That evening, I spoke to a large group of parents, educators, and community members at the Pine Richland High School Auditorium. This non-sectarian presentation on numerous aspects of contemporary youth culture led to lots of good discussion afterwards.

The next morning was a highlight for me. Orchard Hill Church graciously offered their state-of-the-art building to the Alliance for a resource fair, presentation on youth culture, and a panel discussion. Members of all youth-serving sectors were present, and I was told to enlighten them not only to trends in today's youth culture, but to offer distinctively Christian responses. I love opportunities like these! We ended the morning with a panel discussion, featuring members of the Pittsburgh area drug treatment community (Doctors, Social Workers, etc.), along with yours truly, a pastor, and a Biblical counselor. Again, my discussions afterwords were quite fruitful.

But the day didn't stop here. I was back to the North Hills Church for a six-hour afternoon and evening presenation on "Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture." The great majority of those present were seminary students, who we trained in cultural exegesis.

A short night of sleep (sort of!) was followed by a five-hour faith-based presentation at the North Hills Junior High School Auditorium on Understanding Today's Youth Culture. Again, it was a wonderful time of interaction and conversation.

Here's an interesting story from Saturday morning. . . . and it shows just how God answers our prayers. As I walked into the building I was following a group of back-pack clad students who were being quietly led to Saturday detention. . . that's right. . . . The Breakfast Club. One female student arrived late for detention and was not allowed in. On her way out of the building she stopped at a prayer booth. This had been set up to offer folks who were struggling with a variety of spiritual and relational issues to write out a prayer request, which the folks at the church were committed to praying for. The church then promised folks they would follow-up with them in two weeks. After filling out a card and requesting prayer, the young girl left. She returned a few minutes later with her father, who also spent time at the prayer booth. Their circumstances - a sister/daughter addicted to heroin - was what led them to return. Now, the church has a great opportunity to do ministry in a family with deep need! But it didn't stop there. When the detention was over, two of the boys who had detention stopped by a booth for a crisis pregnancy center and entered into a one-hour conversation with the director. They too, left the building. But they came back. . . . .with their parents. . . . who also entered into conversation with the director.

The needs of the world are great. I am grateful for the folks in Pittsburgh who have developed a deep vision for meeting those needs in obedient response to the One who has given them life. And, I'm especially grateful to the God of great surprises who always does more than we could ever imagine or ask for.

I'm back in Lancaster right now. The weekend in Pittsburgh is a memory. Still, God is there and is at work, using our meager efforts to further His Kingdom and bring glory to Himself.

I'd love to be a part of this kind of thing elsewhere. How about it? Can we serve you?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Here We Go! . . .

So some of you have been wondering about my silence regarding my beloved Phillies. It's called caution. And it's a caution that's grown out of experience. You have to remember, my two most vivid early cultural memories were the assassination of JFK in 1963 (Second grade), and the late-season collapse of my beloved 1964 Phillies (Third grade). For what it's worth, 1965's personal tragedy arrived in the form of having a girl push me face-first into my locker, which resulted in the loss of a front tooth, which in turn has resulted in dozens of hours in the dental chair and thousands of dollars in dental bills in the years since.

But all of that's forgotten - mostly - this morning as I sit in anticipation of our first World Series appearance in 15 years, and maybe - just maybe - our second World Championship in 126 years. I've been quiet because the Phils had to get past the Dodgers. I happened to be in California while the Phillies were playing there. My buddy Chap Clark, a Dodgers' fan, sent me a stream of harassing text messages beginning with "Dodgers in 4!" That was followed up with "Dodgers in 5!", "Dodgers in 6!", "Dodgers in 7!", and then finally, "Rockies in 8!" (which was the equivalent of a white flag).

So now we're there. My antique Phillies Bobblehead
- purchased at Connie Mack Stadium during the aforementioned 1964 - is sitting happily on my desk this morning. . . . even though he has a broken neck. And I'm especially excited as Lisa and I were able to be in the stands during what many in the Philly media are calling one of the greatest nights in Phillies baseball history (thank you Chris. . . I still owe you a kiss for that!). We watched as Brett Myers rattled C.C. Sabathia and got the fans all riled up in a maddened frenzy. Even better, we got to see Victorino (is there anyone more fun to watch in MLB today?) hit that slam. I was only able to watch on TV when the Tugger jumped off the mound with his arms in the air back in 1980. I can say I was there when Victorino's picture - which will live on in Philly sports history - was snapped. You know what made it even better? I had just finished downing a Philly cheesesteak when he got that hit. Does it get any better than that?

Sadly, I'm getting on the turnpike in a couple of hours to head west to Pittsburgh. I'll be watching tonight's game in the comfort of a lonely hotel room. Doggone it! It was a joy to stay up late with Josh to watch the Phils win the pennant the other night. He was sad, very sad, when as a seven-year-old the Phils lost in '93. I wish I could watch with him and the rest of the family tonight. Oh well. If we win, we're going to the parade!

So. . . a couple of thoughts to put it all in perspective. First, let me sound like a follower of the Phils: Does anybody out there think Tampa deserves this? Come on. The franchise is only 10 years old. Not 126. And, isn't this the franchise with the fans who didn't start showing up until. . . last week? Oh, so NOW you like your team?!? I'm sorry. I'm a part of a team following that's consistently been labeled the most loyal and knowledgable fans in baseball. you have to be when you endure your share of losses from the professional sports franchise that holds the record for more lossess than any other. Let me enjoy being a "homer" for a little while.

Second, let me speak to the World Series from the perspective of a follower of Christ. Baseball's a great thing that we need to embrace and enjoy. The image of God shines through in the game's strategy, order, beauty, and athleticism. But just remember, if you're a Phillies fan and the Phillies win, it won't last. It won't make life any better. Oh, it will be fun. But the momentary thrill of victory (which I long to experience again!)is no substitute for the joy of ultimate redemption. In other words, the ache that was there for fans who live for Phils, will come back sooner than next season's first pitch is thrown. And if we lose. . . well, it's not the end of the world. Yes, we need perspective.

Now. . . one last thing. . . . Hey Chap. . . . Phillies in four!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Memories and Britney. . . .

I just spent three days in the past, present, and future. It was a 72-hour run that drove home the fact that culture rolls on. . . . picking up mass, volume, and speed. And, I was reminded that depravity is woven in and through everything, but the Gospel of Kingdom is a real as ever. . . and the Kingdom that's come is still coming!

I spent all day Friday with Britney Spears. Well, it wasn't in the flesh. . . but then again it was. If you're confused by that last statement, all you have to do is check out her new video for "Womanizer." It's the one that jumped from #96 to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in no time at all. It's a huge pop culture presence this week. I've made the risky decision to embed the video here in my blog. But I do so giving you fair warning. Britney shows us who she really is, both figuratively and literally in "Womanizer."

Lest we forget, the video's really about showing our children and teens not only who she is, but who they're supposed to be. That's why I think it's important to reckon with "Womanizer." My time with Britney and "Womanizer" resulted in a new 3-D review of the song that you can download here. The envelope's been stretched again, and we can't ignore it. Rather, we have to face it head on. Britney's "Womanizer" present casts a reality that gives us all a glimpse into a future - a very near future - that we must be addressing prophetically, preventively, and redemptively.

Saturday and Sunday were spent in the present of my past. The church where I spent my high school years, only to come back a little over ten years later to serve as the youth pastor for six years, was celebrating a mission's weekend as part of their 50th anniversary. Because of the role Supplee Presbyterian Church played in my own life and spiritual development, the fingerprint of God's gathering people at Supplee is all over CPYU. Now, they support our ministry. It was a joy to see old friends, to reconnect, and to see what God has been doing in everyone's lives. It was very, very enjoyable. Thinking back to my own high school years, my time in youth group, and my time leading the youth group. . . . well. . . . it only hammered home the fact that culture is changing and changing fast. But what really jumped out at me are two committments that have remained strong at Supplee for as long as I've known the church - a commitment to the proclamation of the Word, and a commitment to proclaiming that Word to kids. It's needed to balance the message that Britney heard, that Britney's embraced, and that Britney's passing on to a generation of kids hungry for redemption.

So. . . . know the Word, know Britney and the generation for which and to whom she speaks, and prayerfully work to communicate the Word into that very disheartening reality.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why are we so nuts? . . . .

This morning I've been getting ready for a big trip to Pittsburgh scheduled for next week. I'm working with a couple of churches who have put together a very aggressive schedule of events, most of which are designed to engage the culture-at-large that exists outside the "walls" of our congregations. The folks in Pittsburgh have been diligent in the task of framing, wording, and preparing in ways that are truthful without the "noise" of turnoff. . . . which, by the way. . . tends to typify many of our shameful efforts to engage a watching world in compelling ways. In an email to one of the event's organizers earlier this morning, I suggested some wording changes in something I was putting my name to so that the message we want to share doesn't get lost in translation.

This all got me thinking about a couple of conversations I had last weekend at the Youth Specialties National Youthworkers Convention in Sacramento. The first was about some of the infamous stuff done by the brothers and sisters over the years. Or perhaps I should say, the infamous stuff made by the brothers and sisters in an effort to bring more folks into the fold. A couple of us got to talking about Christian "witnessing tools," you know, that Jesus Junk that we think is more effective than an embodied apologetic for the faith. One of those things that we talked about has been sitting on top of my desk since the day I picked it up - almost 10 years ago - in the exhibit hall at one of the conventions. Actually, and I'm ashamed to admit this, I paid for it. It's a can of root beer. . . Holy Cross Root Beer to be exact.
Never heard of it? Neither had I. I think it's Christian root beer. . . . or at least that's what the guy manning the booth told me. What makes root beer Christian? I still haven't figured that one out. Is it Christian because the can features a cross, a "Jesus Saves," and references to Acts 16:31, John 3:16, and Revelation 20:4-6? Does drinking it draw one closer to God? I can't answer that because I've never popped the top to take a swig. Does that mean that 10 years later what's in my can is actually better than what was in there when I first laid eyes on it? Who knows? All I do know is that if this is the best we can do. . . or even if we think this is an effective tool in our witnessing arsenal. . . . well, then we're nuttier than we think. And I don't mean "nutty" in a nice way.

Another weekend conversation was had with some of my favorite new friends who are ministering to kids through First Presbyterian Church in Boulder, Colorado. Kim is one of the female interns who used to be a waitress at Appleby's. She told us how waitressing at the chain on Sunday afternoons was always an embarassment. Why? Because the restaurant would fill up with the brothers and sisters from the after-church crowd who would eat a normal amount of food, then leave an embarrassingly abnormal tip. . . . like a gospel tract sans cash. Do we seriously think that we're leaving a good impression when we share the Gospel of being cheap, cheesy, and uncaring with a piece of paper that winds up provoking anger before flying into the trash? Are we really caring for people when we demand that they wait on us for $2.01 an hour plus tips. . . . and we don't leave anything? Shame on us.

It made me think about this funny little video that's been floating around on YouTube. I watched it and laughed. I watched it and was embarassed. I watched it and thanked God that I'm not like that. . . . or am I (we)?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Youth Culture, Adolescent Development, and The Key. . . .

So I'm scratching my head this morning for the millioninth time while saying, "Why didn't I think of that???" I've always wanted to invent something. Problem is, somebody else always gets the idea that I don't. So, I guess it's hopeless.

This morning's prompt was an article on a brilliant idea that's come from the Ford
Motor Company. They've developed some new parent/teen technology that's sure to sell a few cars. Here's the deal. . . Ford has developed a new techology that will be available on many 2010 models. Parents who own the cars equipped with the new teen-limiting technology give their teenaged drivers a key that's loaded with a computer chip that limits the car's top speed to 80 miles per hour. (Of course it's a great idea for highway driving, but the cynic in me quickly realized that kids can still go 65 miles an hour over the speed limit in a school zone!) But it doesn't stop there. Parents can also program the key to limit the volume on the car's sound system, thereby elminating what is one of the most common distractions for teen drivers. (Do you think they could also include a text-messaging jammer?) The key can also be programmed to make the car sound continous alerts if the driver isn't wearing a seat belt. Great idea.

Now think about all of this in relation to adolescent development and youth culture.
We all know that the brain's pre-frontal cortex takes awhile to get all wired up. . . . like several years. . . . many of those years ending in the suffix "teen." Lack of judgment and an overactive impulsivity gland (I think there is such a thing)combine behind the wheel in some pretty frightening recipes, many of which can and do quickly lead to disaster. I'm still sitting on some closely held secrets about some things I did behind the wheel when I was a teenager. It is only by God's grace that I never got hurt or hurt anyone else. And you'd better believe I've never told my immediate ancestors or descendants some of this stuff. I might have benefitted from a car equipped with Ford's MyKey.

Enter today's teenage driver. The impusivity factor not only continues to exist, but is fed, fertilized, and watered by an ethical weather front that's moved into and stayed in the neighborhood. If you've been to any of my seminars you've heard me talk about postmodern amorality. I use my fist as a demonstration tool. My clenched fist represents a commonly held standard of morality. I place my other hand on that fist to represent behavior that conforms to the standard. . . . behavior that can then be labeled as "moral behavior" . . . like what happened when I hopped behind the wheel as a teen and I obeyed all the traffic laws. I then lift my hand off my fist and move it around through the air, indicating behavior that doesn't conform to the commonly held standard of morality. . . like what happened when I'd choose to break the law. I was being "immoral." Then I take my fist and make it disappear behind my back. This is the loss of commonly held standards of morality. In this "amoral" world moral and immoral behavior becomes a conceptual impossibility in terms of societal standards that are accepted and held to by all. Everyone defines morality for themselves, doing what's right in their own eyes (ever read anything about that anywhere?!?).

And this is where our teens now live. . . . and the MyKey becomes a sad commentary not so much on teen impulsivity, but on our moral condition. If we are no longer committed to exercising the internal constraints and restraints of self, we need a growing combination of "someones" and "somethings" outside of ourselves to rein us in. Are you looking to get a job in an expanding field? Go into law enforcement, litigation, etc. Are you looking to invent something that will sell? Invent the MyKey.

Come to think of it, most of us would be out of a job if human depravity would cease to exist. Someday it will. But it won't be because of anything we've done or made.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And so it begins. . .

Will my hopes be dashed again? Or will my beloved Phillies take a different path this year and fail to disappoint? We'll see. It all starts this afternoon. Perhaps it's timely that I've been thinking and writing quite a bit about sports lately - our kids, our pressure, our spectating, etc. It helps me to keep it all in perspective, win or lose.

Because of that, I thought I'd pass on a couple of things I've penned in the last few weeks. First, there's an article I did for our latest edition of ENGAGE that you can download here. It's called "Turf Worship," and I think it lends itself well to these fall days filled with baseball and football.

Then, there's this little excerpt (below) from that article that we included in this months CPYU Parent Page. Let me know what you think.

Here's what I wrote for the CPYU Parent Page about the sports pressure we put on our kids: Researchers at Michigan State University report that 70% of kids who play youth sports drop out by the age of 13. Sadly, many of these dropouts are gifted athletes who should be exercising their God-given athletic gifts and abilities long into their teen years. Others are late-bloomers whose discouragement leads them to hang it up, causing them to miss out on the years of successful play that could be theirs if they would only be encouraged to hang in long enough for their bodies and skills to develop. Then there are those who continue on while allowing the pressure to excel to lead them to try to get an edge through cheating and/or performance enhancing drugs. It’s not good.

I recently shared a cab ride from the airport with a dad who was more than happy to tell me about his athlete-daughter. He informed me that she was so highly regarded as a soccer player that their family’s summer would be centered on traveling around the country to various showcase tournaments where she would be able to display her skills. In addition, he told me that his daughter was a highly successful baseball player. “Baseball? Not softball?”, I asked. “Do they let girls play that down in Georgia?” “Yes,” he enthusiastically answered. “She’s leading the league with 7 home runs.” I was impressed. Then I asked, “How old is your daughter?” “Six,” he replied. Ouch. God bless that little girl.

The pressure’s even greater when parents live vicariously - trying to find redemption for their own athletic failures, unfulfilled dreams, or empty lives – through their kids. Many pressure and push in the hope that their kid will score the college scholarship that will lead to a professional contract. The reality is that college scholarships are few and far between. A pro career is highly unlikely. According to research from Dan Doyle at the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island, there are 475,000 fourth grade boys playing organized basketball in the U.S. At the same time, there are only 87,000 high school seniors playing basketball. Of those 87,000, only 1,560 will win Division I scholarships, 1,350 will win Division II scholarships, and 1,400 will play at non-scholarship Division III colleges. Of those 4,310, only 30 will make it to the NBA. Still, parents push, push, and push some more. Do you want to know how bad it’s gotten? Go to a local soccer field where elementary-aged kids are playing an organized game. Don’t watch what’s happening on the field. Turn sideways and look down the sideline. And, just keep on looking and listening. Be prepared. It might break your heart. Then ask yourself, “Am I putting on too much pressure?”