Friday, March 8, 2024

Be grateful for the ability and opportunity to do the things you love

It was a Friday evening about a month ago and I was dragging.

It was the end of a busy week and I was getting ready to head out for what would be my eighth sports PA announcing gig in as many nights.

I love announcing, just love it. But I was struggling to find the energy and enthusiasm I like to bring to the mic.

For one thing, my beloved Wickliffe Blue Devils boys basketball team was playing a powerful opponent in Crestwood that evening. Wickliffe had lost the first match-up of the two teams a few weeks earlier by 27 points, and there was no reason to think that night's result was going to be any different.

I try to be lively and professional in my announcing whether my teams are winning or losing, but going in knowing a loss was likely made it that much more difficult to get up for the game.

There are also the simple logistics of announcing. It's not hard work by any definition, but it does inevitably involve a certain level of time and effort if you're going to do it right.

Even when the gig is just down the hill at the Campus of Wickliffe, as it was that evening, I have to pack everything up, drive to the school, unload and bring it all into the building, set up, test everything, get my hands on rosters and officials' names, confirm pronunciations of all visiting players' names as well as the referees, and confer with the athletic director about any special events or announcements.

Then I sit at my assigned table near courtside practicing introductions and announcements to minimize flubs and, more importantly, make sure I'm adding to (and not detracting from) the experience for everyone in attendance.

Like I said, it's not ditch digging or roofing or anything, but it takes work, both physical and mental. And I had been doing it over and over again every night for more than a week. I was ready for a break.

It wasn't until I walked into the gym in the middle of the junior varsity game, with my announcing backpack over my shoulder and my rolling equipment case in tow behind me, that my attitude changed.

You couldn't help but notice people clapping and cheering. Kids were sitting with their friends in the stands having a good time. The cheerleaders and pep band were eagerly getting ready to perform. It was exactly the type of positive, wholesome atmosphere that has always attracted me to PA announcing in the first place.

It was at that moment I remembered this is something I get to do and not something I have to do.

I always say announcing  particularly at my alma mater  is a true privilege, but sometimes I don't treat it that way.

The instant I started seeing this assignment through eyes of gratitude, everything became that much more enjoyable, and I found myself with more energy than I knew what to do with.

All of which is to say that even in the midst of busy and stressful times, if you're blessed to do things you love doing, whatever they may be, never forget to be thankful.

Be thankful you're given the opportunity to do them and that you have the ability to do them.

Often when I'm out walking and running in the morning, I will say a prayer of thanks for the most basic elements of that 30-minute exercise period: the breaths I draw, the steps I take, and the moments I experience.

None of those things is guaranteed, and I'm entitled to exactly zero of them. Yet God gives them to me anyway.

Even when I'm tired, bored, or for whatever reason generally disengaged while doing something, that realization alone is enough to refocus my attention and heighten the experience.

By the way, Wickliffe lost the game that night by 36 points, but I still loved every minute of the gig. It was another chance to do what I enjoy doing and to realize there's no absolutely no guarantee I'll ever get to do it again.

By the end, it didn't feel like the eighth night of announcing in a row at all. I was actually kind of sad there wasn't another announcing date on the calendar the next evening.

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