Last night I watched the first few minutes of the NBA draft, and saw the top three draft picks learn what teams they’d be playing for. For those of you paying no attention whatsoever, the Pelicans had the #1 pick and chose Zion Williamson from Duke, the Grizzlies had the #2 pick and chose Ja Morant from Murray State, and (my) NY Knicks used their #3 pick to bring RJ Barrett from Duke to NYC.
So to sports fans, that is the big story. But I believe another big story is how each of these three young men reacted to the news. After working so hard for so many years, being supported so strongly by family and friends, they have just gotten a job to play the game they loved for a whole lotta money. Fame and fortune is about to rain down on them.
Each young man, when he walked offstage and was asked on camera how he felt, cried. These giant young men all cried as they thanked their mothers and fathers for all of their sacrifice and support. They cried as their parents comforted them and talked about how hard their sons worked and how proud they were of them.
And I was proud too. Proud of these young men for their hard work, proud of their gratitude for the phenomenal parental support it took to get them to this point, and proud that they weren’t ashamed or afraid to cry in public with all the cameras rolling. If we want the next generation of boys and men to be sensitive and thoughtful and aware (and we do), we’ve got to encourage our sons to express their feelings freely. We’ve got to stop saying “Big boys don’t cry” and start saying “Everybody cries, it’s ok, and I’m here for you.”
Might not be the easiest thing for some of us to do. But our boys need us to try.