Athletes in Action put on its first coaching clinic in Colombia last week and because I have some experience with them, they asked if I would tag along and participate. Arriving, Virginia Military Institute assistant Chris Kreider and I put on a two day basketball clinic of just about everything we knew about the game. Piadad Douglas, in charge of AIA in Colombia, and her team did a great, professional job and Chris and I were fortunate to be a part of it.
But I have been to Asia, Europe twice and all over the United States meeting people and doing basketball camps or clinics. Colombia was different in that the music, language, and food were different than the other places (side note...it has been my experience that the food in foreign countries even hamburgers and chicken tastes so much better than here in the States), but there were some similarities.
People are different culturally, language, dress, food, etc are diverse, however I have found some universals truths. We want to be happy, we want to have families, we want friends, we want health for both ourselves and those we know, we want to be taken care of and we want to take care of others. The differences are noticeable when you visit a different culture, but if you really pay attention, we do want many of the same things.
I have noticed as I travel that those with fewer material things seem to be happier than many Americans. I mean, just look at the national political scene where so many are angry on both sides of the aisle, shootings take place way too often and so many are medicated either by prescription or illegally.
Why is it that a country like the US which has so much seems so unhappy?
Why is it that when I visit countries with fewer things and fewer resources, they seem to be happier than we are? Is it because I have some idealistic notion of wanting to have less and I see in them only what I want? Or is it because there is a truth in "more money, more problems"?
Even the game of basketball. We take it so serious in this country and definitely in this state (guilty as charged) that I am afraid that sometimes we forget the innocence and fun that it brings. We often forget that Division I scholarships are not given away like candy thrown out at a parade and we put so much pressure on our children to excel, too many times having them end up resenting the sport they once loved.
I worked with a middle school aged girls team during the clinic in Cali, Colombia and they soaked in everything I said. They enjoyed doing what I showed and in their joy, I remembered why I love basketball. Not that I had forgotten, I try to remind myself daily how lucky I am, but it was different with them. And it was different in the coaches who stayed around after the clinic or during breaks or followed us to dinner just because they want to be around us and talk basketball or life.
I was only gone for a few days, but it was enough. I was ready to come home. I missed my wife and kids and the comfort of my bed, the comfort of hot water and electricity. I missed the comforts that we take for granted here in this great country and am glad to be back, but I long for a more simple life, I'm just not brave enough to do it, I guess because I am like you; I kind of enjoy being pampered.
The goal now as always is to appreciate it.
Now, I need my kids to get up some shots so they earn those college scholarships...