3 Things I Learned From Athletics

There is much talk in the U.S. about the importance of athletics and specifically how it builds character.

Having played organized basketball from the time I was 7 years old and received a basketball scholarship in college, I thought I might share with you three things I learned from organized athletics.

1.     Winning is everything. I learned this early on. The trophies went to the teams that won, and the coaches repeatedly reminded us winning was the most important thing, or as some would say, “Winning is not the most important thing; it’s the only thing,” which I think was another way of saying winning was the most important thing. I also learned this from watching college athletics. Coaches that lost got fired and the coaches who won got better jobs and more money, even the coaches whose players didn’t graduate and got in trouble with the law.

2.     Use intimidation to bend the rules in your favor. I’m referring to the near universal practice of coaches yelling at referees. I also learned this one early on. I suppose the coaches I had when I was young saw the college and professional coaches doing this and figured it was what coaches do. The idea was to intimidate the referees so they would be afraid to call a foul on your team, even if your team committed a foul. For some reason they didn’t call it bullying but “working the refs,” which sounded very industrious.

3.     Yell at people to get the best performance out of them. When coaches aren’t yelling at referees, they are yelling at players. The really good ones know how to yell and be sarcastic at the same time so as to magnify the humiliating effect on their players. Because coaches are always talking about how winning was “the only thing,” I concluded most coaches believed yelling at their players improved their player’s performance.

If you are having trouble understanding how to apply these lessons to your job I would encourage you not to get hung up on the specifics but to extract from them the important principles such as: 1) achievement is everything; 2) the end justifies the means; and 3) people exist for you to use to achieve your goals.

So, the next time you need to miss church so your kids can play in their soccer game, just remember, it’s ok because you are helping build their character.  GS

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