Life Lessons

An Unsuccessful Athlete

Or, how to punish those we love

Paul Thomas Swann
3 min readFeb 10
Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

I was nine years old the first time I quit.

The reason that I left little league football was not that I didn’t want to play. I did. I mean, I had the usual football heroes like Roger Staubach and Archie Manning which likely reflects my age and NFL geographical viewing area more than anything else. I also followed Lynn Swann (for obvious reasons).

The real reason I quit football at the mature age of nine was to punish my dad for being a chronic alcoholic.

Although he would eventually stop drinking within the year, he was still living life as a sloppy and mostly angry drunk. And for some odd reason, I didn’t appreciate having a violent and sloppy drunk for a dad.

I knew that my dad wanted me to be a successful football player. But, my dad didn’t know that I would never develop the necessary athletic skills for such a journey. After yet another violent drunken episode at home, I made the decision to punish my dad and quit football.

Certainly, that would make him change!

There’d be no chance for a college or pro career if I didn’t play, right?

As if that were really on the table.

So, when the little league coach eventually called to check on me for missing practice, I told him that I quit.

Again, that’ll teach him.

But here’s the problem with quitting. It only gets easier.

Now, sometimes in some compartments of our lives, quitting is the right call.

Say you’ve been puffing away at two packs of aromatic cigarettes for years. With the right amount of motivation or nicotine substitute, you might be able to quit and recover some semblance of a normal life.

Alcoholics can also quit abusing alcohol. I’ve seen it.

But quitting just to hurt others is selfish and immature.

Besides quitting football, I’ve used the quitting card several more times through the years with jobs, people, and half-finished blog posts. Sometimes it was the right thing to do.