There are three reasons I like sports. First, sports give great coaches and athletes a chance to make instructive and inspiring quotes. Whether it is “Everybody wants to win but few people are willing to prepare to win” or “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” sports quotes have enriched my coaching, teaching, and my personal life.
The second reason I like sports is it gives you a chance to be valiant. As a youth baseball coach, I did not have an MVP award. I gave out what I called the “DIRTY UNIFORM” award. This was given not to the best player, but to the kid most willing to dive for the ball, most willing to give it his all. In my opinion, you cannot play the game (or life) right without getting your uniform dirty. Although I am more of an endurance sport person, in my younger days I enjoyed playing third base. I saw it as a fight between me and the ball. I even wrote a battle cry “DIG DOWN DEEP!” on my glove. Since you will not find me in Cooperstown, you can guess the ball won quite a bit (including a knockout once). But I still have the willingness to “DIG DOWN DEEP.” I also relish the memories of when I needed a bandage, when I achieved a dirty uniform.
The final reason is my argument against Vince Lombardi’s quote “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” Athletically I gravitate toward running and cycling. Whenever I cross the finish line, I like to raise my hands in victory. I do this not because I won the race, but because I finished. In longer races, the guy next to you is not the real opponent. The real opponent is the distance, the struggle, and the voice inside you telling you to quit. I learned in running, the longer the distance the friendlier the other runners were toward me. This is because we all are fighting the same enemy, and it is not each other. I have crossed the finish line before as the last finisher of the race. But….. I finished. That means more to me than being first place.
In conclusion, I have some thank yous to give out. Since my favorite teams need an opponent to play the game, I want to thank all the opposing teams and their fans. And also, thank you to all the other athletes (or pretend athletes like me) the coaches, officials, and organizers who made my sports experiences possible. I am a stronger person because of those experiences. As I am about to embark on a new sports experience this year, the Senior Olympics, I do not promise victory. I promise to prepare, to go the distance, to dig down deep, and get my cloths dirty.
By Shawn Reynolds
Reach Shawn Reynolds at DulcimerShawn@mail.com. Shawn’s published works can be found in The Sport Digest and Cycle California Magazines.