What Youth Athletes Can Learn from Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel.  Johnny Football.  The first college football freshman to win the coveted Heisman Trophy.  He has been a constant headline on many sports pages. And many of the headlines have nothing to do with his on-field football performance.  I'm not sure if you are a fan of Johnny or not, but I do know your young athletes must watch Johnny Manziel!

Fun and games

For those who have watched him play you have witnessed a passionate young man playing a sport he loves.  In one instance you are witnessing the beauty and purity of a young athlete playing sports.  He really enjoys playing this game. Yet sometimes you catch glimpses of the ugly side in sports, which are built on teams, but focus on (the good and bad of) individuals.  And because we live in the information and social media age, you are likely to see it online or on TV, almost instantly.  Your kids and/or youth athletes probably will too.

So why must your kids watch Johnny Manziel?

My kids play flag football, but aren't all that interested in watching football on TV.  They may not even know who he is.  But I want them to watch him play, and I want them to know what has happened to him through his football experience. You might be asking if they aren't into watching football on TV, then why have them do it?  And why have them watch Johnny Manziel? One reason is I think they may like him running around avoiding tacklers, making great plays, and sometimes running around celebrating.  But there are some other reasons I think would be good for them to see, as I believe they'll see more of it in the future with the direction sports are going today.  They can learn from Johnny Manziel. Here is what youth athletes can learn from Johnny Manziel.

  1. Playing sports can be fun, a lot of fun.  Watch him play, and you'll know what I mean.
  2. Your involvement in sports can be frustrating, really frustrating some times.  More than just having bad games.  Social media updates have been used against him, he was asked to leave the Manning Passing Academy early, the list goes on.  Johnny has had his share of frustrations.
  3. Sports can take you to places and exposes you to things you'd never believe.  Football has exposed Johnny to people, places, and things he probably didn't expect at the age of 19.
  4. Sports can make you believe some things you probably shouldn't believe.  Is Johnny Manziel reading his own headlines, and believing the hype?  No matter what other people say, you can't it influence you too much.
  5. Sports can set you up for success in other areas of your life.  Johnny is positioned to do many great things.  If properly handled his life outside of football can be just as epic as his life in football.
  6. Sports can set you up for failures in other areas of your life.  Johnny has been arrested, suspended, and some are wondering if he can even make it in the NFL.  The hype surrounding his on-field success has contributed to this to a degree.

Make Johnny Football a teaching opportunity

Your kids and my kids can learn there are good and bad things with playing sports.  At the end of the day, they will be known not just by what they do on the field.  They will be known, and held accountable, by what they do off the field.  It is their choice whether this is good or bad. No matter what your opinion is of Johnny Manziel, there are some great lessons in witnessing this young man's experience playing the game of football.  He's handled the unique situations football has landed him in about as well as I would have, or the average teenager would have. I wish him the best, and I hope there are some young athletes watching him who learn from his successes and his struggles from the experience playing a game he loves. Question: What are your thoughts on Johnny Manziel?

photo credit: Matt_Velazquez via photopin cc

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