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SI FOR KIDS
Speaking of Class to the Class of '98|
by Rick Reilly
Posted: Tue May 19, 1998
Every now and again turn off Nintendo, shut off Spectravision and open a book. We already have enough jocks who think the Brothers Karamazov are the WWF tag-team champs.
If you ever hear yourself saying, "They offered me $81 million? That's an insult!" find a tire iron, go into a quiet room and hit yourself very hard on the shin.
Marry someone who has never heard of you.
Now that you've made it, practice twice as long as you did in college. The hardest worker in the NBA is Michael Jordan. What does that tell you?
If you write a book, read it before it comes out.
Be careful with your money. Write your own checks. None of this power-of-attorney crap. Get an agent and a lawyer, and tell each the other's a crook.
Shock the world: Apologize when you screw up.
Don't buy a Vanderbilt mansion just because you can. Do you know how many 50-room jock palaces I've been in with two rooms' worth of furniture?
Never, ever rip a teammate.
Spread the jing around. There's nothing uglier than a man in a $3,000 Armani stiffing a coat-check girl.
O.K., so you didn't grow up with a father. Then go be one. Make a difference in the life of one kid who is not your own, and it'll give you more joy than a lifetime shoe contract.
Just a reminder: You will die someday.
Stop thumping your chest. The line blocked, the quarterback threw you a perfect spiral while getting his head knocked off, and the good receiver drew double coverage. Get over yourself.
Give the bodyguard the night off once in a while and wade into the people. Some are sort of cool.
Loosen up a little with the quotes. This isn't a congressional budget hearing. Why say, "I really was shooting well today" when you could say, "I was hotter than a three-dollar pistol."
Once a season, let your offensive guard spike the ball.
See the woman up there in section 595, row WW, seat 29? She makes $26,000 a year, paid $22 a ticket for her family and just plunked down $17 for three Cokes and a warm beer. Treat her nice. Without her, you're a 320-pound bouncer with half a P.E. degree.
Go easy on the tattoos. By the time you're 60, that hula girl on your biceps is going to look like Don Knotts.
This just in: You can do community service without being sentenced. Try it. Have somebody leak it to the media. There are worse things than people seeing a millionaire painting an old lady's house.
Learn the piano. Try another language. Take up origami. It's hard for you to believe now, but someday people are going to get sick of hearing about the crosscourt forehand that beat Sampras.
Once a year take your free tickets, walk through the stands in your uniform, go outside the ballpark and give them to the kids hanging on the fence.
Remember, these are all just games. Hale Irwin missed a two-inch putt that cost him the British Open. What are you going to do? Go soak in your Olympic-sized hot tub and laugh about it.
This is the career you picked. If you can't handle public scrutiny or deal with strangers graciously, become a taxidermist.
Read everything written about you, good or bad. Then forget about it. No matter what you do, half the people will worship you and half will detest you. You can't fight it.
Help your opponent up. He'll probably be your teammate next year.
No offense, but when you're setting off the airport metal detector from the back of the line, you might have on too much jewelry.
For the next 10 years or so, you'll travel the world first class, laugh yourself sore on the team bus and get paid half of Zurich, so let's not hear a lot of whining, O.K.? So what if your Oakley deal fell through. We'll start a telethon.
One last thing. Remember when you were a kid? All you dreamed of was playing centerfield for the New York Yankees. Soon, you'll be there. Don't forget to tingle.
Tell us what you think. Sound off on the CNN/SI Message Boards.
photograph by Robert Beck
Issue date: May 25, 1998
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