June 20, 2011

If Peyton Manning showed livestock...

By Kelley Sheiss

Strange as it may seem, this is a thought I have pondered quite often lately.  As I alluded to in my previous column, much of my time and thought process has been “lightly consumed” with the everyday tasks of preparing livestock to show.    Could there be a correlation to training camp?  Possibly.   Why Peyton Manning?   In our household, there are two things we really love; raising & showing livestock and football.     My husband was a Colts fan when they were still in Baltimore, so it is only natural we cheer on our hometown team in Indiana.    Plus, I believe Manning is an excellent role-model athlete.  If you’d like, you can substitute Drew Brees in here as well.  

However, we’re not Saints or Purdue fans, so I’m sticking with good old number 18.     The thought first occurred to me in the shower one morning…what if Peyton Manning showed livestock?   Why?   From what I have read and seen from interviews with the quarterback, he is 100% dedicated to the game and strives to do his personal best for himself and his team.    He diligently studies game tapes, commits to regular practices and develops strategies for success.   All the while doing this without pomp and circumstance.    I’m sure one of the end goals is winning, of course.  Who doesn’t like to win?  Coach Bill Parcells is quoted as saying “Winning is a very precious thing, and to be called the champion, it’s why we do these things.”  However, if Manning loses he goes right back to reviewing the game and preparing for the next one down the road.    There are obvious times when his temper may get the best of him (my son has become an expert at reading lips during the NFL games), but all in all, he is a role model I am proud Dillon has in a time when they are few and far between.
When Peyton has a successful play, breaks a record, or the Colts win, I have to wonder what the opposing players are saying.    There are referees in place to ensure the game is played right.  Yet in their frustration, do opposing team members call Manning a cheater just because he worked hard and out-played them?   We don’t have referees at livestock shows, but maybe we should.   The judge is it.   He makes the final decision and on any given day it can go your way or somebody else’s.   While you may not always agree with it, as a showman you respect it and plan for the next show.   Can you imagine a person out in the ring wearing black and white stripes with the judge requesting a review of the previous class because a parent was adamant their child should have placed higher?  I’ll be the first to admit we are a family that dissects every part of a show until the next one.   That is part of what gives us the determination to do better the next time.   However, the times when personal attacks are lodged against other families or our kids might be alleviated if we had an NFL ref on hand.   Because someone works hard does that make them a cheater?  Absolutely not.   Can you imagine?  Sorry  Mr. Smith, you have incurred a penalty for unfairly targeting another family for their hard work.  Please have your son move down to 4th place. That might quell the negative comments back in the barn.
Peyton’s dad is a regular at many of his son’s games.   I have to wonder at any time during his boy’s career, did he sit behind an opposing team member’s parent who audibly announced “I hope that Manning boy loses.”   Probably not, since in football the opposing team sits on the other side of the field.   At livestock shows, the teams are the parents, family members, breeders and kids.    We are all intermingled around a ring of nervousness, anticipation, excitement and hours of hard work.    Again I ponder…if Peyton was out there on the end of a steer, would another parent spout off his hopes of a last place in class for the all-star quarterback?   Maybe each family needs their own sky box in the show arena to keep their comments contained.
If Peyton Manning showed livestock, I’m guessing he would not do it half-heartedly.   He would have someone videotape his show ring moments to determine if his calf was too stretched out, he didn’t brace his lamb correctly or his pig stayed on the fence too long.   He would self-criticize himself for such actions and practice so it didn’t happen again.    Instead of long hours on the football field, he would be in the barn from sun up to sun down.      He would watch others who have been successful and always be willing to learn and try new techniques (within ethical standards) that will help him remain competitive.    I’m guessing his parents would be a big part of the equation, too.   While Peyton and Eli were growing up, I wonder how many things his parents gave up so they could provide the most for their sons as they pursued their passion.    Did Mrs. Manning opt out of a full-time job so she could drive the boys to practice?   Did Mr. Manning give-up a weekend speaking engagement or golf outing so he could be at the boy’s games?
If Peyton Manning showed livestock, I bet his parents would be right there every step of the way.  They would sacrifice and teach, they would be his best coaches and biggest cheerleaders and they would also discipline appropriately.
There are few things in life that come without some extent of work.   If you’re lucky enough to win the Powerball jackpot, that might be the exception.   Rarely do you read of a successful athlete who took weekends off, opted for a swim party over a practice or decided to work on their playbook a mere 30 days before the big game.    I would love to watch Peyton Manning show livestock.   I bet he’d be in the stands watching other classes, he’d be back in the barns asking questions and he’d be working his tail off to succeed.
Recently, Dillon and I had the chance to travel to a day-long show cattle workshop featuring Bob May.    It was going to be one of the nicer days we had in quite some time and it meant getting up early.   I think both of us were a little hesitant, but Bob May is an industry icon.   To give you an idea of his importance in my husband’s book, when we sat eating pizza that night after returning home, Donnie looked at Dillon and said “you know, when I was about your age if I had the chance to meet Bob May it would have been like you meeting Lebron James today.”   I smiled and Dillon looked at his dad like he was crazy.  But it was true and at that moment it sank in for Dillon.   During the workshop, Dillon had the chance to sit across from Bob May at lunch and “talk shop.”    I took eight pages of notes during the session and asked questions incessantly.   There were a lot of things we learned at the workshop, but there are two that really stuck with me.   First, time and time again, Bob May emphasized that success cannot be reached without hard work.   He said don’t ever assume just because you have all the equipment, facilities, “right” animals, etc. that you’ll win.   It all comes down to hard work.   Second, he finished with a truly heartfelt thank-you to the kids for taking time out of their Saturday for attending and to the adults who brought them. 
You see, as adults, we are the coaches and our kids have the potential to be the next Peyton Manning.   Since the NFL season is still in jeopardy this fall and training camp might be delayed, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite Peyton Manning to the Whitley County 4H Fair.  You missed the 4-H enrollment deadline, but we do have an Old-Timers Showmanship during the cattle show and I think you would do a great job!

Kelley Sheiss and her husband, Donnie, live on the family farm in Etna Troy Township. They have a son, Dillon. She is also the program director for Leadership Whitley County, makes amazing jewelry and can put together some outstanding, fashionable looks on a dime! 

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