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The ability to make mistakes

February 27, 2012

This weekend Lebron James said he’d participate in the dunk contest for a million bucks.  That seems about right to me.  Since he has essentially been a paid player since he was in his early teens it is about right that as a man in his twenties he would expect a million bucks for about sixty minutes of work playing a kids game.

It’s also what keeps me up at night about what he have done to kids sports.  I think about this a lot recently as I go to practice with my fifth grade daughter.  In fifth grade they have been taught an offense, lots of technical skills, and have been told over and over again what it takes to win.  What I’m pretty sure nobody has ever done is roll the ball out on the floor and say “have fun.”  They never get a chance to try things in a gym that’s not packed with parents and coaches.  They never get to screw up or screw around.  Don’t get me wrong, all these people care about them a lot, but condering that of the eleven girls currently at best only three will ever start a varsity basketball game, and the odds are clearly that none will every play in college maybe even those of us that really care (and know better) aren’t focused on the right things.

Which brings me to the problem with social media – you can’t practice anymore because somebody is always watching.  I was reminded of this the other day when a classmate put a video of my playing basketball in high school on the web.  It’s horrible.  I was skinny, the shorts were too short, and I’m about half the player I thought I was.  Sure it was fun, but nobody needs to see that again.   That’s a pretty isolated incident for me, but I’m reminded almost daily with my kids that they will never live in an age when someone can’t Google them and come up with an embarrasing picture, blog post, or birthday message from a deranged Aunt.   They can’t just practice the awkwardness of relationships, or becoming a professional, or learning how to think critically because when they post that on the web that is out there forever.

As I advocate for the use of social media I want to also make sure that I’m advocate for forgiveness.  Because even though my shorts were too short in 1991, doesn’t mean I haven’t learned something since then.  I hope social media doesn’t freeze some of brightest young minds in a time they would just as soon forget.

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