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November 15, 2010Often times, after men get married they get what is called "The married man's spread." It's that roll of fat around the middle of the stomach a/k/a spare tire that's usually caused by good home cookin' and lack of exercise.
It represents the husband's overall belief that he doesn't have to work to look good or impress his wife anymore because he's already captured that prize. Many of these same husbands are surprised when find out that their wives have been cheating on them. Unfortunately, student-athletes can suffer from a similar affliction called "The Committed Man's Spread" or TCMS.
TCMS is the student-athlete's false belief that once they commit to a school, especially after signing the letter-of-intent, that they can relax their game and take it easy for the rest of the summer and/or high school season. That their worries are over because they've already captured the prize, a scholarship or maybe even that promised starting spot.
Over the past summer, I've seen quite a few New York area commits suffer from TCMS. Players, who have clearly underachieved over the summer and have virtually disappeared from the realm of competitiveness.
For those who have TCMS, and you know who you are, be aware that a few things are happening while you are chilling out on that proverbial beach of your imagination with that non-alcoholic pina colada in your hand. College coaches, and probably your new college coaches, are still watching and listening to the buzz or lack thereof about you. Opinions are being formed. For those with professional aspirations, notes are being taken by scouts regarding your performance or lack of performance pre verses post contract.
An inevitable side effect of TCMS will be headache, nausea and swelling disillusionment because the suppression of your usual all-or-nothing competitive nature, has caused your new college coaching staff to suddenly become un-enamored with you. As a result, they begin to recruit, unbeknownst to you, for a version of you that is not suffering from TCMS. As the rain begins to fall on your proverbial beach, unhappiness replaces the headache, nausea and swelling disillusionment, resulting in acute transfer-itis.
Rather than out those who have the affliction, It is more productive to site two prime examples of players, past and present who don't.
Erving Walker committed to Florida early in the process but one thing everyone can agree on is that he brought his A-Game all the time. From his first high school game until his very last AAU summer game. Walker is as relentless now with the Gators as he was then with the Royals. A player that seems to be doing the same to date, is Sidiki Johnson. Johnson committed to Arizona but one could not tell from the way he's playing basketball. He seems to have retained the same fire and the same drive and will to win as before he committed. He may have even stepped it up a notch.
The Committed Man's Spread can be cured but if left unchecked, often becomes chronic. For some, it happens during the transition from high school basketball to college basketball while for others, TCMS lays dormant, rearing its ugly head when a player makes the transition to professional basketball.
Now that we've identified the affliction, let's talk about the cure or better yet, TCMS prevention. First, take a daily dose of reality checks. Always remember that it ain't over until it's over. There is always someone who will take your spot if you let them. Second, stop sitting back and admiring your work so much and keep playing like there's no tomorrow. I've seen many boxing matches where a guy throws a great punch, puts his hand down and hams it up for the crowd only to get knocked out by a punch he never saw coming. Remember the words of basketball trainer Jerry Powell who says, "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."
Lastly, always play basketball first and foremost, for the love of the game and for the thrill of victory. Not just to achieve a scholarship, remembering that you are both a student and an athlete. Success is not a mountain. It's a serious of never ending steps.
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