THE MVP'S MVP
Last week baseball’s Houston Astros finished off an impressive season by winning the franchise’s first ever World Series championship. Houston’s George Springer III was an easy choice for World Series MVP. The Astros outfielder hit .379 in the series, clobbered five home runs (tied for the most ever in one World Series) and had eight extra base hits (the most ever). It was an impressive performance, on the game’s biggest stage, by one of baseball’s emerging superstars.
George Springer is a great baseball player, and by all accounts, an even better person. But I want you to see clearly today the reality of why George Springer is who he is, on the baseball field and beyond. After clinching the game seven victory over the Dodgers, a local Houston reporter caught up with Springer’s dad, George, Jr., on the field. What the reporter got – and what all of us, here today working to raise champion athletes and people in our own lives can get – is a great lesson on sports parenting. I’m begging you to carve three minutes out of your day to watch this short interview. I think you’ll be challenged and encouraged by the powerful perspective of the MVP’s (Most Valuable Player’s) MVP (Most Valuable Parent). It’s further proof that champions breed champions.
So what can we learn from the father of this year’s World Series MVP? What can he teach us about raising champion athletes and people of our own? Here are three obvious priorities in George Springer, Jr.’s parenting perspective that each of us would be wise to emulate:
1. Champion parents see beyond the game.
“It’s not just about the Xs and the Os,” the elder Springer says. “It’s not just about the hits, it’s not just about running the bases or catching balls. It’s about being a good person.” As his leader and developer, you absolutely have a responsibility to help your son reach his full potential on the playing field. But that’s not all it means to raise a champion. It also means seeing the incredible opportunity sports provide to prepare your child for success in life beyond the game. If you see things clearly, it’s obvious the two are not mutuallyexclusive – there's actually a ton of cross-over.
Reaching his full potential as an athlete, for example, will require that he gives his best effort – regardless of the circumstances. He’ll also have to seek improvement, to want to get better. He’ll have to overcome challenges, be a great teammate, and more. Soon, when manhood’s calling, success there – as a husband, a father, a friend, or a professional – will require many of those same skills and abilities. If you recognize the opportunities, you can cultivate in your son what he needs to become a champion athlete…and while you’re doing all that, prepare him to be a champion in life, too.
2. Champion parents see that being great means helping others be great.
The MVP’s dad emphasizes multiple times in this short interview how proud he is of his son’s positive impact on others. There’s a genuine humility that shines through in people who don't make it all about themselves. “The thing that I really enjoy most watching is how he makes everyone around him better,” Springer says.
As is always the case for a sports parent, what you choose to emphasize is what your child will learn to value. Why is George Springer III a superstar athlete with a genuine desire to help others be great? Probably because his dad was intentional about using his influence to make it so. If there was ever a time to make it all about his son, I'd say the aftermath of winning World Series MVP would be the time. Yet in that moment, what did this dad choose to emphasize? The value of his boy as a teammate.
In another interview, the elder Springer said, “Once after he had a nice (college) game at UConn, he was quoted in a story about the game, and all he would talk about is so-and-so pitched well and so-and-so had played a great game. He would not make it about him. He still has trouble doing that. When I hear that, I’m like, ‘You know what? He gets it.’ This is who we are as a family. This is what we’ve tried to instill.”
It’s worth stopping to consider for a minute today. What is it – especially as it relates to your son and his role as a teammate – that you’re trying to instill?
3. Champion parents see that real success includes a struggle.
It’s easy to forget that Springer’s 2017 World Series started off a disaster. In Houston's Game One loss to the Dodgers, Springer went 0-4 with four strikeouts. He didn’t even put the ball in play! But in a great display of resiliency, Springer responded like a champion. How was he able to fight through his challenging start, bounce back, and respond with one of the great World Series performances of all time? A quote from his dad’s interview may shed some light:
As for winning the MVP, Springer’s dad said, “It makes me feel great, obviously, that he made a significant contribution, but really, what it means is that that contribution was able to aid the team in winning and it’s a reflection of all the hard work and the effort, and frankly, the struggle – you know, you get knocked down, and he had his knock downs during the series and you get back up – because that’s what life is. To see him work through that, to see his resiliency is enough to make you real proud.”
You get the feeling the MVP’s dad spent plenty of time developing that resiliency – talking about it, working on it, cultivating it. Seeing it on display in the World Series, especially after that difficult Game One, must have felt great. It seems the Springers have accepted that real success – doing something big and important in this world – requires a price to pay, and that usually struggle is built into that price. It’s a reality we’d all be wise to accept ourselves, and work hard to help our kids accept, too.
George Springer III’s success in not an accident. It’s the result, sure, of some unique, God-given ability. But it’s also safe to say his success is directly connected to the powerful perspective of his champion sports parent. George Springer, Jr. was determined to raise a champion, on the field and beyond, and that’s just what he’s done. He’s the MVP’s MVP.
Subscribe to The LENS Newsletter here.