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takes a lot more energy and a dollop of faith to be positive and
believe that your team can reverse the tide and rally to victory.
Hey, these are 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids out there. And we all
agree, donít we? Itís only a game.
sports appeals to us because we get all the classic elements of
compelling storytelling: conflict, colorful characters, comedy,
drama. We root for the underdog, revel in the us vs. them-ness of
playing sports provides a multitude of useful life lessons: the
value of hard work and goal-setting, the virtues of discipline and
teamwork, the interdependence of physical and mental skills, the
meaning of competition and the importance of self-esteem. But when
pushed to an extreme by overzealous fans, competitiveness can lead
to a very negative outcome: We begin to take sports too seriously.
A little good-natured trash talk is harmless, but if the windup
is knee-jerk sports radio callers screaming for coachesí jobs or
big donors threatening to pull support of their alma maters, then
being an overly competitive fan is just plain nuts.
itís only a game. And thereís always another one tomorrow, or next
week or next year. Get a grip. Sure you want your team to win, but
not so much that you lose your sense of balance.
I was growing up, like millions of kids across the country, I played
sports all day, every day. Thousands upon thousands of games of
kickball, football, basketball, baseball, you-name-it-ball. Often
a team captain, I used to believe winning was everything. This made
me a pretty sore sport when I lost. I yelled at classmates for making
errors, dropping passes, missing shots.
retrospect, my behavior was, well, rather childish. But Iíve mellowed
considerably over the years. I now realize that the rush that comes
with winning is fleeting and that the misery of defeat is a lower
low than the thrill of victory is a high high. True winners, Iíve
come to understand, are those who play their hearts out and both
win and lose graciously. Over the course of a lifetime of playing
games, the outcome of any single contest doesnít define you. Sports,
like life, has a way of evening out. Sure, defeat still stings,
especially when Iíve blown the game-winning shot. But winning is
not as important to me as it used to be. Itís only a game.