By: Neil Siskind
Fans of CBS Sports Analyst and radio talk-show host, Boomer Esiason, will, from time to time, hear Boomer mention the pony that his father bought him as a kid on Long Island.
When Boomer was just seven years old, his mother passed away. As Boomer tells it, he guesses that his father wanted to give him something to love- to fill the void. While this is a wonderful reason to give such a gift, I suspect it gave Boomer so much more. It probably gave him, consciously or subconsciously, the feeling that someone had compassion towards him- a sense that someone understands his emptiness and cares to fill it. Now, that is a gift far greater than the pony itself.
Boomer has not only talked about his father’s efforts to take care of him, but also the powerful influence that his high school football coach had on his young life, teaching him structure, focus, dignity and discipline. In addition to these qualities that he helped Boomer to develop, he was, more importantly, showing Boomer that he cared. Again- the gift of compassion was greater than the other gifts. I’m sure that those attributes taught to Boomer by his coach helped make Boomer into the man that he is. But it is likely that without that underlying message, or signal, of compassion, those other attributes may not have taken hold. The military teaches people all of the above attributes, yet many people leave the military unhappy and misguided. The feeling that somebody cares is what makes the other attributes worth maintaining and using in life.
I can’t, of course, speak for Boomer, who is the only one who knows the feelings deep in his heart. But, as a social science commentator, I can say that his story is not one about loss, but is one about compassion and fatherhood. I am sure you know a youth whose father has died, or is in prison, or who is not physically present, or who has a substance abuse addiction and is emotionally unavailable. The men in Boomer’s life stepped-up and stepped-in when needed. Will you?
You don’t need to give someone a pony. You only need to show him or her that someone cares about the void they live with everyday. This can help give someone’s life a meaning, and help put that life in the right direction.
Read about The Fatherhood Assignment at: http://www.neil-siskind-the-fatherhood-assignment.org/