(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Saturday, May 08, 2010

3 Pieces of Wisdom from Sports that Also Bode Well for Life

My kids call these dad-isms. They're not original. One, I know, comes from John Wooden. I'm not sure who said the second one, and the third one is repeated every year by defensive backs who get burned for long touchdowns in stadiums that are packed to capacity. But I think that there's some truth to them, so I figure that I'll share them with you. They might come in handy -- at work, at home, or in an activity that you're engaged in.

Here goes:

1. "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." John Wooden, the legendary UCLA men's basketball coach, authored this line. I say this at home a bunch on the value of studying or practicing, and it obviously worked for Coach Wooden, who won a bunch of NCAA titles. The other day my son had to recite a few lines at a public gathering, and when we went for the dress rehearsal he started giggling and had trouble saying them. The reason? He hadn't practiced as much at home as he should have. So, he practiced diligently over the next two days. The following morning was the event, and he noticed when we arrived that the main hall was empty. He asked me if he could go in and practice. We went in there, and when it was his turn, he nailed it. I told him once again that's why everyone practices, but it's good when kids can see cause and effect.

2. "The name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back." In other words, you need to work well within the team concept if you expect to have a chance to win -- it cannot just be about you. I've seen people forget this concept time and time again -- at work and in extracurriculars particularly -- and with disastrous results. Yes, you must excel at what you do, but not if it destroys morale or fails to achieve the team's goals. Sometimes you'll be asked to play a key role, others, a subordinate one, but you must remember that it's the team or the institution that matters more than your individual glory. And, for what it's worth, if you remember that and your institution or team achieves its goal and excels, there's plenty of glory and exhiliration for everyone to share. Be selfish, and, well, that's what you'll be remembered for. And I'll tell you what -- if you're consistently selfish and don't work for the greater good of the team or the organization, you're not going to be a pretty site when you're a senior citizen. Just old, grouchy and full of complaints.

3. "If you're going to take on challenges, you had better have a short memory." Excellent hitters make outs 70% of the time. The best defensive backs get burned for touchdowns. Star quarterbacks throw incompletions and interceptions. The list is endless -- sales people lose out to the competition, product development engineers have failures -- but if we learn from what went wrong or didn't work and don't dwell on the past, we have a good chance at the next challenge. You cannot undo the long touchdown that the other team just scored, but you can not let it eat at you, stay focused, and then make a play during the next defensive series that will give your team a chance to pull ahead. The same holds true in school or on the job. You might not get the grade on a test, but you should learn quickly from the experience -- did you prepare well enough, did you not understand something, should you have asked more questions -- and then move on and do a better job preparing for the next test. But you have to have a short memory, too.

So those are some of the adages that we talk about in our house. What are some of yours?


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