One of those stories that is worth repeating is what was done by Iowa basketball guard Jordan Bohannon, who missed a free throw on purpose against Midwestern so that he would remain tied with the late Chris Street for the longest streak of free throws made in school history: 34. Street died in a car accident in 1993, only three days after setting the record. Rather than break the record, Jordan chose to share the record with someone who died before he (Jordan) was born. What would you have done? Why did he make that choice? In the “madness” of the coming month, look for more examples of Winning More Than The Game!
It has always been considered poor sportsmanship to “run up the score” against a clearly inferior opponent, or to add on unnecessary points against an opponent at the end of a game when the outcome is already determined. The recent high school basketball game in which one team beat the other by 86 points brought this issue into the news again. The Superintendent of Schools of the winning team apologized immediately and said that was not part of the philosophy of their sports program (this was a first round playoff game, so the opponent was from another district). One problem the winning school had was they only had eight players, so some starters had to remain in the game. But what do you think should have happened? For example, the winning team could have stopped trying to score – and just run out the clock. Or, the losing team’s coach could have decided to forfeit the game. We think either of those choices would have been better than what did happen. What do you think?
The founder of the modern Olympic games, Pierre de Coubertin, said, “The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the important thing in Life is not triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” Do you agree with this? The Code says “I will give my best effort in practice and in competition.” Giving our best efforts does not mean that we will win, but it does mean that we can have the self-satisfaction of knowing we tried our hardest. It is important to keep the perspective that we win just by being a part of a team; we win by getting to compete; we win by gaining the friendship of our teammates; we win by improving in our sport; we win by looking back on a sport that has meant so much more to us than any one victory or defeat. Invite your team to discuss winning, losing, and the ways they are always “winning more than the game!”
Everyone is concerned about the shootings that have happened in schools and other public places. Everyone wants to know what we can do to help prevent such tragedies. They often are done by someone who has few, if any, friends. We play on an athletic team, but our school is also a “team.” The Code says, “I will be a positive influence on the relationships on the team.” Athletes have a great opportunity to be positive role models on the campus, to do things that build relationships between all different kinds of people who might not otherwise be friends. This is a challenge, but one that we hope that your team will take seriously. What can you and your teammates do to build positive relationships with others? Who are the individuals in your school that you can reach out to in a new way? Can you identify one or two individuals that you will make a special effort to get to know? Can you get one of your friends to do this with you?
The Olympics are intended to represent the highest and best of sports, and each time they provide a number of wonderful stories. This year, in the midst of international tensions, the North and South Koreans marched into together and competed on the same team. Also, there was the tremendous story of the Russian luger who prior to the Olympics had offered his sled to American Chris Mazdzer because he knew Mazdzer was in a slump and wanted to help him. Mazdzer won Silver using his own sled, but said, “It’s such a unique bond on the luge circuit. I don’t know how to relate it,” he said, “but we all look out for each other. We all want the best for each other. …I think that what it shows is that we care about each other. There is a human connection that we have, that crosses countries, that crosses cultures, and sport is an amazing way to accomplish that.” Invite the members of your team to share the stories that have been the most meaningful to them, and why!
The truth is that the Super Bowl doesn’t matter – unless you bet a lot of money on it, have your identity or pride tied to a team, or think that who wins any game really matters in the true scheme of things. Super Bowl LII was a great game, and we congratulate all those on both teams for a great effort – it was fun to watch. But did it really change anyone’s life? What was Really Super was the recognition last week of the Texans’ J.J. Watt as the Walter Peyton Man of the Year and the Carolina Panthers’ Luke Kuechly as the recipient of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award of the NFL. What J.J. and Luke have done is show that a defensive player, a “really tough guy,” and a Pro Bowl player can also be a great sport on the field and change lives off the field. What? It’s possible to be a tough guy and also a good sport and a great humanitarian? And a football player too? The examples we set are more important than the games we win. The examples we set can influence the life of a young person watching. This is true no matter how old we are. You’ll forget about this Super Bowl game in a few weeks or years, but the kind of person you are will always be remembered. Who are the people you most respect and admire for how they behave both on and off the field?
Vikings fans are showing appreciation for an act of sportsmanship by Saints punter Thomas Morstead by donating thousands of dollars to his charity.
Here’s what happened: after the Minnesota Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints on the final play of the game both teams headed to the locker room. But the rules require that the meaningless extra point be played. Who was the first Saint to come back onto the field? It was their punter, Thomas Morstead, who had sustained a painful injury in the first quarter making a tackle on a punt return.
After the game, a Reddit post surfaced encouraging Vikings fans to donate to Morstead’s “What You Give Will Grow” foundation. Amazed at the news of donations flooding in, Morstead pledged to donate 100% of funds raised from Vikings fans to the Child Life department at Children’s Hospital in Minnesota, and he plans to go to Minnesota to present the check personally.
In a time when fans vilify other teams and their fans this seems like an almost impossible story. It’s a tribute to the people of Minnesota who are Winning More Than The Game!
The New Orleans Saints were beaten on a “miracle” pass play of 61 yards as time expired. It is one of those crushing moments that we all hope never to experience. Those on the losing side (and those on the winning side) will never forget how they felt. The truth is that we all have those moments – not on a national stage, but in our own lives. Most of us can remember a contest “we should have won.” Or, we can remember something that was important to us, that we worked hard to accomplish, but somehow came up short. It’s always good to think about Kipling’s words: “If you can meet triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same…” What does he mean by that? He means how we react, how we move forward should be the same – the same determination as before, the same bearing, the same larger goal still before us. Why are triumph and disaster “imposters?” An imposter is someone who pretends to be someone he or she is not. Kipling means, we think, that whatever the triumph or disaster is, it is not the end – it is just a milestone, a marker, along the way. Triumph and disaster will come to all of us; the greater test is how we carry on afterward. What other thoughts do you have?
Alabama’s Jalen Hurts started college football’s National Championship Game but struggled in the first half and was replaced by freshman Tua Tagovailoa to open the second half. Tagovailoa was named Offensive MVP after throwing 3 touchdown passes in a 26-23 overtime comeback win over Georgia. More importantly was the way in which Hurts accepted his demotion to the sideline. Rather than sulking or expressing his hurt and disappointment in being taken out, Hurts became the number one cheerleader for his replacement, standing with Tua on the sideline between plays, encouraging him, and offering advice. In a game where athletes are quick to strut or to sulk, it was great seeing Hurts able to demonstrate the maturity to swallow his pride and to place “team goals ahead of personal goals.”Can you think of other examples like this?
This is the time of year when most people make “resolutions.” As we know, most resolutions fade within a few days or weeks. Goal setting is an important exercise that we should and must take seriously. Take a look at the Code and decide where you want to improve. Hopefully, you will want to become a better athlete, a better teammate and a better citizen. But those are fuzzy goals and we must do more than have good intentions. We need to set a goal (for example: “improve my shot,” or “do my part to stop bullying”), but then we need to determine what steps we need to take (an action plan: “take 15 minutes extra to work on my shot,” “be kind to those others pick on”), and write them down. Then, we need to determine actual actions that we can take daily to work toward those steps that lead us to our goal. The most important aspect are these daily actions (“practice my shot from the same spot, not random spots” “be kind to someone that others pick on at least once a day”). We have to have those bite sized daily steps that we can easily achieve, so that we will have a positive sense that we are working and moving toward our goals. Are you willing to do that?