Last week, Jim Hoskinson posted a comment in his log about sacrificing an upcoming meet to make sure he was at his son’s first football game. He had trained extremely hard for the meet and was on track to hit some really big numbers but decided that his boy’s first game was the more important event. After reading the post, I started to think back about my own father and the amazing sacrifices he made to always spend time with me.

As I look back, I realize that the time spent between a father and a son is by far the most precious thing that we, as men, can give to our sons. The time spent with dad is the most important time a boy can have in his entire life.

My dad used to work on a 7-Up soda truck, selling, delivering, and picking up empties. This was way back when soda used to come in wooden crates instead of the plastic ones you see now. The soda came in bottles and cans, not plastic two-liter bottles. It was extremely physical work with very long hours. He used to drive an hour to work and an hour home and normally put in 10–12 hours a day on the truck. Anyone who works a physical job knows that after finishing days like this you pretty much want to come home, eat, read the paper, and drop into bed.

As a kid, I loved playing basketball. In the summer, I set my alarm clock for 6:00 am to be at the court at 7:00 am every day. I played ball until noon, went home to eat, and then went right back to the court. Sometimes, other guys were there, although most times I played by myself. I had read Pistol Pete Maravichs’ book and mimicked the drills he had laid out. I stayed at that court until I couldn’t see the basket anymore, day after day after day.

In the winter, I played before school, after practice, and every time and every chance I could. I always had splits in the tips of my fingers from the cold weather breaking the skin open. Most times, in the winter, my ball was full of blood from my bleeding hands. I loved basketball. I lived basketball and thought about nothing else day and night.
My dad usually got home at around 7:00 p.m. Instead of just dropping onto the couch, he showered, changed, and drove over to the court to play ball with me. Sometimes, it was only a game of one on one or H.O.R.S.E. Sometimes, it only lasted ten minutes. However, he always made the effort no matter how much easier it would have been to just say, “Not today. I’m too tired.” No, he showed up and gave me time.

I remember when he said he was leaving how disappointed I was. I’d think to myself, “He could play longer.” However, it wasn’t until I started working full-time that I realized the magnitude of the sacrifice he made day after day. Looking back now, I realize that those were the best times of my entire life—my dad and I, playing basketball at the court, just the two of us, joking, talking, and playing ball.

When I was a kid in elementary school, my favorite player was Julius “Dr. J” Erving of the New York Nets. The walls of my room were filled with posters and pictures of the “Doctor.” Many would say that it went beyond a normal hero worship, but he was everything to me. At the time, the “Doctor” played at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. It was about two to three hours away from my house. About three times a year, my dad surprised me and we got tickets to see the Nets play. To make it out to Long Island, we had to leave our house at about 4:30 or 5:00 p.m.

In order to get off work that early, my dad had to do part of that day’s work a day earlier. This meant putting in an extra two or three hours of work, which made his day about 14–15 hours of back breaking physical labor. I didn’t understand this until years later because my dad never said a word about it. He just knew that watching the “Doctor” play meant the world to me and no sacrifice was too large to make me happy.

Again, when I look back now, it was great to watch the “Doctor” play, but what made the games so special was the time in the car going to the game talking basketball with my dad. We always stopped on the way and got a milkshake and burger at a place that my dad knew in New York. We laughed, joked, and talked about basketball and life. Those are times that you can never get back. They are memories that get so burned into your mind that nothing can ever erase them.

I could go on and on about my dad. All I know is this. He made being a kid great. He never missed a game that I played in, and it was hundreds. He always went that extra mile to make things special, even just waking up early on a Sunday morning to go get the paper. He made it great by stopping to get donuts, taking the long way home, or going over the past night’s scores. He did what many fathers don’t do. He gave me time. He was interested in what I was
doing, what teams I liked, and how I felt. He put my likes over his own and always sacrificed things that he wanted to do for things I wanted to do.

Now that I’m a man with my own son, I can only hope that one day my son will look back and have the same type of memories of his childhood. I hope I gave him time, was interested in what he was interested in, and made things special for him.

Jim Hoskinsons’ post was an important one. It, once again, pointed out what is really important in this life. Spending time with your child should be the priority. Yes, Jim was probably disappointed that he missed the meet. However, thirty years from now all his son will know is that “my dad was at my first game.” There is nothing like looking up and seeing your dad in the stands when you’re playing, and it’s something you never forget.

Jim Hoskinson is a great guy, and his post points out that while goals are crucial in this sport, your kid’s goals are even more important. No one will remember the weights that we lifted 50 years from now except you and your family. But your son will remember the time you spent with him. I’d rather be remembered by my son than the entire powerlifting world.