Is there a more powerful word in our world than potential?
I ask this amid the swirling storylines around us and amid changing seasons.
It is glorious and too often taken for granted.
The hope for the best.
It's where we start and why we are confounded by lowered expectations.
I got an email last week from a treasured voice who had issue with my view on the "Upward" basketball generation that I wrote about earlier this year.
He had an issue with my antagonistic view on the Upward League, which does not keep score and gives every player a trophy. He asked about the kids of any age group who may not be the best players but love to be part of any team and enjoy playing.
It's a concept that is great in theory, but theory and life rarely meet in the road of reality.
His well-reasoned email gave me pause, and he had a point. We all have areas in which we struggle.
That struggle, though, gives reward to the effort. And more importantly, in a lot of ways, gives added motivation to failure.
Or at least it should. It certainly used to.
We — and I say that as a country, state, city and far too often personally — have developed an expectation of reward. That's not an expectation of success, mind you, but an expectation of reward for whatever effort and result are given, regardless of merit.
That, sadly, creates a ripple that has untold effects.
This is not to downplay the kids who love to play or anyone else who is comfortable in where they are in this life.
There's strength and joy and beauty in finding your place and being comfortable in your skin.
That, in a lot of ways, can be viewed as realizing your potential.
Finding your way in life can be a challenge, no matter who you are. It's not easy, and the pressures around us make it more difficult.
But acceptance — be it universal trophies or not — also comes with a price. Overcoming the pressures and expectations around us is taking the next step in the potential ladder.
There is an understandable merit in making sure everyone is included, at least in some ways, but that movement has allowed us to lower the ceiling for true excellence.
Where do you see potential being met?
Chattanooga is the greatest city in the history of the free world, according to the Internet, but I wonder if we are meeting our potential.
Personally, I wonder about making sure I make the most of this opportunity.
Nationally, I wonder about the four names we are looking at to be the leader for the free world.
Stunning, right? And that caution and concern in the grand scheme of things has very little to do with youth sports.
It has to do with us, and with how we grade ourselves and challenge the best — and worst — among us.
Potential is an offering of what can be; an offering that makes the most sense right now as spring arrives.
Lowering our expectations and what we consider truly good to meet the modern effort cheats that potential.
And that's cheating the essence of the glorious word that is potential, and what we could be.
And we should never lower those expectations. Never.
Contact Jay Greeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.