Saturday, January 24, 2009



There are times where I am struck by something and feel the need to write it down—this was the case at the wrestling match on Saturday—but I was lacking my purse and anything to write on—so instead I settled for a piece from the roll of paper towels—all afternoon I was paranoid that I would use it to wipe up something or that it would get wadded into a ball and thrown away. Instead I crammed into my pants pocket and then it managed to get placed and misplaced—until finally I had time on a trip to transcribe these deep thoughts of mine. Were they worthy of the paper towel? Only time will tell…..

Years ago my husband went to register my oldest son for t-ball. Thinking it was a just a fun game for my boy to be involved in he failed to bring along his birth certificate. We soon found out that even to play t-ball a verification of age was necessary. In trying to plead his case we found out that people took this sport—yes, t-ball—very serious. My husband made the mistake and said, “it’s just a game for kids” and which point this man responded “No, it’s not—“baseball is LIFE”. After my husband got over the shock of this statement and the fact that this man actually believed it, he responded “not to a 6 year old it’s not. To him it is just a game.” We soon found out that baseball was not the life or game for this child…and we breathed a deep sigh of relief……

As I have been around various sports with my own kids and with my job, I have seen first hand at the intensity that some adults feel toward their given sport or the sport their child is currently occupying their time with. Some feel that it is “LIFE” and that winning or losing is the end all and nothing short of winning is failure. I have seen shirts that say “second place is first loser” and while there is truth to that statement it doesn’t give the whole picture. Why was the other team/individual better that day? Was it pure skill or desire—maybe training and the amount they put into it? So many factors go into determining who the best is. Winning all the time is a lot of pressure to place on anyone—especially kids—even teenage children. I have been disgusted at the way I have seen some parents treat their children after a loss. And I have also been disappointed with the way I have seen some people win.

Fast forward 10 years. My non baseball playing boy has found his sport and we find our time occupied in hot, smelly, stuffy gyms watching our boys participate in wrestling. While it does occupy much of our life—it is not life. My boys have balance, and enjoy a variety of interests and friends.

The thing that sparked all these thoughts was that someone walked by with a tee-shirt today that said “Wrestling is life” and while I disagree with the complete and total obsession for any sport and believe that life is about balance---that being said, I do believe that there are life lessons that are learned and taught through sports.

David and Goliath theory —otherwise known as the “bigger they are the harder they fall”.
I have seen smaller athletes come up to the armpit of their competitor and have come out victorious. If you believe you can win—you will play like you can win. It won’t always happen but when it does you will find more than just your friends and family cheering for you—everyone loves an underdog. We love to see those that shouldn’t succeed—SUCCEED. It is the stuff that great movies are made of---can you watch the movie “RUDY” and not cry?

Lose with style—win with Grace. We all like to win—some are more driven to win than others but when losses do come take them with humility as an opportunity to learn. More importantly is when you win be proud but not too proud. The other day I was commenting to one of our best wrestlers that I could hardly get a picture of him with his hand raised in victory because they were so quick to bring it down and run off. He responded that he did that because he did not want to rub it in the guys face—he knew he had won—no need to relish in it at the expense of the other kid. HMMMM---I was so impressed and hadn’t really thought of it that way.

Back to the losses—when they come—take the responsibility and try not to blame it on others. Recently at a tournament we watched a very heated match where a young man let his emotions get the best of him and it cost him some points. He had to work to catch up and when he finally did and was ahead he did something stupid that cost him the match. He was upset—mad at himself. He didn’t blame the ref and gave the kid he had wrestled a hug at the end. He knew the mistakes were his own making—something to learn from…

Hard work and dedication will pay off. These are lessons that apply to life as well as sports—things are not going to be given to you. Life is hard—sometimes we have to endure—and are challenged—that is when we have to work our hardest to succeed.
I have seen many games/matches are won in the final minutes/seconds of the game. Often it is the one who trains those few extra minutes—who does not slack off in practice—who works even when they are so tired and want to quit that come out victorious. It is a work ethic that is learned—it is instilled and it will carry you in your life.

Don’t take your talent for granted. We have all been given gifts/talents in this life—what a shame it is when we waste those that come naturally. I have seen hard work and dedication overcome natural talent. Any one can be talented—but you will be more recognized for the work you put into developing your talent than those that waste theirs.

There is more to life than just sports—we need balance. We need to balance the physical with the mental. The hard work that you put in the class room will take you farther in life than your accomplishments in the sports arenas. Always have a plan B so that when your plan A does not come to pass you can fall back on. You will never go wrong with education—those athletes who really have succeeded in life have used their talents as a spring board to get them where they want to. Talent and ability will fade---and the one thing we take with us when we leave this earth life is the things we have learned here---our experiences make us who we are—good or bad.

I think I am going to make a shirt that says
“Life is Life”—or is that too vague?

This ends the paper towel diatribe….

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