Edson: Prep Athletes: Learn Not To Make Excuses

As athletes, everyone has bad days.

Sometimes it’s not easy to shrug off a tough outing. But the sooner young athletes learn that it’s just part of the process of getting better, the easier the road to success will become.

One thing that coaches – and later an employer – won’t want to hear is excuses.

It not only tells people you don’t own up to your mistakes, but that you are willing to throw teammates or co-workers under the bus.

That’s why I was surprised to hear a quote from Detroit Tigers star Miquel Cabrera this weekend when someone asked him why he had hit only one home run this season.

Instead of saying something like, “The season is still young, I’ll turn things around,” he tossed his teammates under the bus.

He said, “I don’t have a guy like Prince Fielder hitting behind me. Look who is hitting behind me. I am not seeing as many good pitches because they are pitching around me.”

When Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire heard about Miggy’s comments, he wasn’t happy.

“I think he is just frustrated… I hope that’s the reason,” said Gardenhire, “because who is hitting in back of him is not the reason he hasn’t hit home runs this season.”

I’m sure the future Hall of Fame is frustrated. After all, the Tigers aren’t paying him $30 million this season to see him hit singles.

But you would expect an athlete of Miggy’s stature to be better than that.

Young athletes, to be sure, will make plenty of mistakes. But coaches and teammates expect that along the way. And instead of making excuses, it’s always best to seek advice on how to do things better the next time.

I know as a high school athlete, I made plenty of mistakes. But I was taught to do my talking on the field, not off it. That means to let your level of play do your “talking.”

In this day and age of social media and Sports Center, I see too many young athletes trash talk when they turn in one good play after making three or four poor plays.

It makes it tough for teammates and coaches to put up with athletes like that. So the sooner the lesson is learned about accepting responsibility for your actions, the better off everyone will be.

That’s why sports is so valuable for young athletes.

They will later be part of a work force and will have to come together as a team to produce a good product or service. The sooner a person learns that mistakes are correctable without blaming something or someone else, the better everyone is.

After all, a true team is always there to support you, through the good times… but especially the tough times.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.