From the Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 9, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / May 9, 1999

“Hi, mom.” Any time a television camera is focused on an athlete, it’s an even bet that those are the words that he or she will be mouthing. It’s not a new tradition by any means. If there had been cameras in mythical Greece, Hercules would probably had said those exact words before slaying the hydra.

And what words are more appropriate? After all, most of those athletes would not be where they are today without the support of the most special lady in their lives.

Who was it that drove them to and from practice every day, sometimes early in the morning, other times bringing them home late at night? Who was there to mend their uniforms as well as their broken hearts? Who sat through the cold, in the rain, through extra innings? Who stayed through the end, no matter how bad things might have gotten? Mothers have been there, offering encouraging words after strikeouts and fumbles as well as cheering home runs and touchdowns. For those special people, their sons and daughters were heros no matter if they were the stars of their teams or if they rode the bench.

The political catchword a few years ago was “soccer moms.” But there are also baseball moms, softball moms, football moms, basketball moms, track moms, wrestling moms, ice skating moms, moms for any kind of sport you can name. And for those moms, whatever event their child isplaying in is more important than the Super Bowl, the World Series or the Masters.

I recently did a story on Lutcher coach Denise Riley and her daughter, Toni, who is coached by her mom both on the volleyball and softball teams. Toniadmitted that sometimes it is hard to be coached by her mom but was glad to have had her around.

“She has helped me a lot with everything,” Toni said. “I’ve learned toappreciate her and everything she has done for me.”Many an athlete probably feels the same way. Most recognize thesacrifices their parents must often go through for them. Think about it.After an athlete signs their first professional contract, what is the first thing many of them say they are going to buy? It’s not a new car or jewelry for their girlfriends. It’s a new house for their parents.A recent commercial added up the costs of such things as diapers, food and allowances and said that we owe our moms $3 billion. That’s not true.There isn’t a price that can be put on the love our mothers give us. Noplayer, no matter how big a salary they make, could ever repay their mothers for what they have given them.

So this Mother Day, let’s give a cheer for those who were always willing to stand up and cheer for us, no matter whether we won or lost. Let’s allsay “Hi, mom, and thanks.”

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