Sometimes - as fans - we hold our sports heroes to incredibly lofty expectations. Show up, run the show, punish the competition and bring home the W for us, for the team and for the city. That's their only job, right?
Well, yes and no, actually. It seems that maybe sometimes we can get a little bit overzealous in our demands on athletes.
Sure, they're paid to perform and sure, they're paid very handsomely to do so. But that doesn't mean that their sport - their craft - is the only thing they have going on in their lives. Athletes are supposed to perform for their team and for us as their fans, but that doesn't mean that there isn't anything in life that surpasses that commitment.
Family is always the most important thing in life, regardless of your station, your career or your position. People with families of their own happen to understand that better than those of us without sometimes, and we can all take this poignant speech by Sarunas Jasikevicius, head coach of the Lithuanian Zalgiris Kaunas basketball team as a great reminder of the really important things in life.
Jasikevicius - himself a Lithuanian basketball legend - was prompted by a young reporter to answer whether or not he was angry with his teams' star centre, Brazilian-born Augusto Lima, who had missed a recent semi-finals game in favour of attending the birth of his child. Incredulously at first, Coach Jasikevicius begins to answer the question before taking a moment to think, declaring to everyone that indeed, this actually is a very good question, but for a different reason than intended. He then gives a touching speech on how having children - from his own experience - overshadows about everything else in life. He includes a reminder to the young reporter that he'll understand one day because, as we all know, any good fatherly speech must contain that line!
Personally, I was very moved by this story because I found myself at first empathizing with the reporter. I understood why he would ask that question because I might have thought the same thing and asked it myself if presented with Lima's absence. I have nieces and nephews thanks to my older siblings, but I have no children of my own, so while I understand what a blessing children truly are to their parents and their families, I still identified slightly with the question. Let's just say that Jasikevicius' response, both touching and well said, made me rethink a little bit of how I view the world. I think we could all use more of those moments sometimes and I'm grateful to both the reporter for asking the question and to Jasikevicius for answering it so eloquently.
After all, there are some things more important than sports, aren't there?