National Signing Day was this past Wednesday, February 4th. This is the day when all of the recruited high school football players decide which college they will attend. My son signed the paperwork for his College on that day in 2006 sitting with me at our kitchen table. I took a picture and gave him a pen with his name on it to mark the occasion. It had been a very exhausting, very confusing, very difficult process. Unlike the kids heading off to Pitt or Penn State with dreams of going pro, my Pennsylvania boy knew it was academics first…but playing football was still a very important factor in his college search and it added another dimension to an already complex process. He put in many hours calculating the pros and cons of each school and each team.. and was comfortable with his decision. Signing the paperwork, and making that formal commitment, was truthfully pretty anti-climactic.
Not so with one of this year’s highly ranked recruits, running back Chris Warren. He committed to the Texas Longhorns in a National Signing Day ceremony held at his Rockwall, Texas high school. He made his decision by flipping a coin right in front of his shocked friends and supporters – many of whom thought he was pulling a prank. He told those gathered that he just couldn’t decide between Texas and Oklahoma so he opted to have “fate” decide for him. He had 8 x 10s of himself with both coaches in frames on the table behind which he sat. His dutiful mother had hidden balloons in both school colors, and was waiting for the coin to fall to know which bouquet to release.
I struggled with this surreal scene when I saw it online. I know how hard these players work to get to a point where they have these amazing opportunities. I wondered how the Oklahoma coach felt about this kid now that his school had been so publicly, flippantly “tossed” aside…I also wondered how the Texas coach felt. I’m sure he thought long and hard about all of the time he spent recruiting this player..only to have it all come down to a game of chance?
Making big decisions is never easy, but it is a life skill certainly worth learning. “Flipping the coin” reflects the paralyzing fear so many of us have that we could possibly make the “wrong” choice. We think that defaulting to a coin toss type scenario releases us from that responsibility and burden. But the truth is we are trading authentic choice for temporary relief ..and that action alone could still lead to regret if things don’t work out as well as we’d hoped.
Let’s face it, big decisions have big consequences..whether it’s choosing a spouse, choosing to move, choosing a job, choosing a home or choosing to throw the ball at the one yard line when you’re seconds away from a Superbowl victory! We will make good choices and we will make poor ones and we will learn from them all. Chris Warren may think he dodged having to make a difficult decision, but in the end he actually had to make the choice not to choose.
My son, #14, enjoyed playing all four years at college. His big decision back in 2006 was just the first of many he has had to make since then.