The pep talk: Should we skip one for the Gipper?
September 24, 2014
I used to think so—until I heard myself giving pregame speeches to my 10-year-old daughter.
A few years ago I wrote a post on my personal blog in which I decried the practice of pre-game motivational speeches, dismissing them as more superstition than communication.
Well, it turns out I was right! A pregame speech is more superstition than anything else.
Here's how I know. I hear myself making these speeches—these "pastiches of loudly mumbled clichés," as I once derided them—to my own daughter before her soccer games … and I'm not even a coach on the team!
"Work hard. Hustle! Be tough!" Sometimes some mild swearing comes in into it. "Kick some ass!" (Seriously, Dad?)
I just asked her what she's thinking when I give her those speeches.
She told me gently what I already know: In her mind, she's rolling her eyes.
Of course, I'm going to continue giving her my short but boring pregame speeches. Because they're not for her, I realize, even better than I once did. They're for me. They give me a sense that I'm doing something. When in reality, whatever I've done to prepare her for this game—good God, for this life!—is already done. And whatever I've neglected to do, I can't make up for now.
But I need to say something right before she gets out of the car and sprints out to meet her teammates.