Thursday, February 16, 2012

Basketball Diaries - 3

Part III: "You play to WIN the game." - Herm Edwards

Such a simple statement, yet it's so very, very true. Winning isn't everything, but that's why you play. It's why you keep score. It's why you celebrate. It's why you have "bragging rights". It's why people are picked first. You play to win the game. For me, the feeling of victory is right up there with love and that feeling you get when you REALLY have to go to the bathroom and you finally get to go. You know what I'm talkin' about.

However, the one other feeling that's just as strong as victory and usually lingers and stays with you for a longer period of time is defeat.

My basketball team has felt victory all season, but the very last game of the regular season...we lost.

Losing sucks.

We TECHNICALLY won our game because the other team added players that weren't on their roster who turned out to be 10x better than the rest of their team, so they basically had to forfeit the game. But at the end of the day, when you look at the scoreboard and the other team has more points than you do... you lost.

We lost the game by 2 points. It was one of those games where we really should've been up by 20+ points, but we just didn't execute. After the game I tried so hard not to show my frustration and anger, but I'm not sure if I succeeded. One good thing, however, was the fact that the team felt just as frustrated and angry. The last time we lost was after our very first game 2 months ago. Another game that we really should've won. That day I told them to remember that feeling of losing. It sucks and it makes you feel like you weren't good enough. Winning feels so much better. The very next game we won and I told them to remember that feeling of winning, but don't forget how it felt to lose. You don't want to go back to that feeling.

So after reeling off 5 straight wins, our last game came and we forgot how much it stings to lose. I don't think there is such thing as a "good loss", but you can always learn from losing a game. With somewhat of a reality check, my team was reminded of why we play the game. The playoffs start this week and we are the #1 seed which earned us a first round bye. It's time to go hard or go home because if we lose now, we're done.

We've regrouped, we're refocused, re-energized and have one collective goal - Win.

P.S. - just so we're clear, I'm not like Bob Knight with these kids. I don't scream and cuss at them and throw chairs or anything. This is a YMCA league and the focus is more about sportsmanship. However, I have middle school-aged kids and they already know about sportsmanship. I just want to teach them about one of my favorite quotes because really, if you're not trying to win, why are you playing? This is a competition and with competition you must learn to rejoice in victory, but also how to handle defeat. You can't win ALL the time, but you damn sure better try.

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