We become best at the things you do most

Published 12:19 pm Monday, March 16, 2020

With memories of Kobe still very vibrant, every eighth-grade mother’s child who’s best on his team playing basketball should know the following things.

Being “best” on your team in one school is immediately spoiled by the proximate presence of another “best” at another school in your city. Here it would be the best at Vicksburg Junior High School versus Warren Central Junior High School, I think. But soon after you arrive at that ranking, and regardless of what your mom thinks, there’s another rank right in front of you, perhaps called the “City All-Stars” where you have to again prove yourself against another “all-star” in that city.

But most kids, when they’re dreaming, go straight from eighth grade to the NBA. What they fail to see in their dreams, though, are all the “bests” they must be before getting there.

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After “best” in the intramurals comes best in the city; then best in the “league”; followed by best in “division” or “ranks,” and the “region.” This is an awful lot of “besting” and beating out others before someone other than mom calls the NBA about you.

There are a lot of other people you have to “beat out” or be “better than” before you arrive at those ranks. There are no dreams to accommodate interims. They simply don’t happen that way. We don’t dream in steps or progression. We just dream.  So, you’re not just the best in eighth grade. You’re “on top” in all of those ranks! You must be.

But it hardly ever happens that way. You can dream your way to the top of anything. But you hardly ever actually get there.

The other thing our aspiring NBA players need to know is that we’re best at the things we spend the most time doing.

If you spend every day after school dribbling a basketball, you’re going to get good at it. You’re going to get very good at it. Three hours a day, and all day on Saturday, will make you an enviable dribbler. But if you spend those three hours a day, and all day on Saturday, practicing Physics and French, you’re going to be good at those too. Very good, as a matter of fact, and you’ll be good at grammar and history as well.

The truth that mothers — and others — don’t tell you is that you become best at the things you do most.

Sports in the South are often like that. Fans will scream out your name to high heaven. Schools will “contract” you before you can vote. Your face will be everywhere. But when you’re not the “best” anymore — when age or an injury sidelines you — when you can’t run as fast or jump as high or shoot straight at the sound of the buzzer, what happens to an eighth-grade “best?”

The examples we have are heart-breaking. Some wind up driving trucks for a living, making deliveries, or just making-do. But opportunities are possible, sometimes even numerous, when you’re able to do other things. Many things.

And children should both “dream” and “do.”


Yolande Robbins is a community columnist for The Vicksburg Post.