Saturday, March 06, 2010

My issue with sports:

I have an issue with sports; primarially High School/Middle School sports.

For the record, I am a very competitive person. I hate losing. My favorite moment is draining a shot to win the game. It is one of the best feelings in the world: I'm going to do this, you can't stop me, and its going to win the game. I love winning.

Now with that said, I think too much emphasis in sports on winning. If you have studied Coach John Wooden, you'll know that he created a system called the "Pyramid of Success" which was the cornerstone of his coaching stragety. This Pyramid is a series of values that a person needs to have in order to have success. If you read through these steps, you'll see these are all life values. These are not steps outright steps to winning, they are steps to becoming a better person. Look at this quote from Wooden, actually defining what success is:

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
-John Wooden
So as far as Wooden, and his coaching philosophy is concerned, success is defined by doing your best. Success isn't winning the game, its being the best you can be. This is often overshadowed by the massive winning streaks, the undefeated seasons, and the 10 National Championships he won.

This is an entirely different approach to sports and success than is being taught today in the Prep sports world. This is entirely different than what is being taught at the college level. If a team does not WIN, and WIN often, the coach is fired and the team is considered a failure. This to me is a problem. This is not why sports are played. Sports, at its core, is not about winning.

If you ever listen to Robert Montgomery Knight talk about his coaching philosophy, you'll get very quickly beyond his insanity on the basketball court. While Bobby was a firey coach who threw chairs and yelled so loudly that his face turned purple, he also was a brilliant coach who prepared his teams to play their best every night. He actually considered himself a teacher preparing his players for life. When fired at Indiana, he did not comment on the number of wins, the 3 national championships, or the record number of Big 10 wins. He commented that he was proud of the "kind of kid that we've turned out here and the kind of men that these kids have developed into." For Bobby Knight, the focus of his coaching was the development of kids into men.

In my opinion, if a team--or if a player--plays their best, plays with intensity, and minimizes their mistakes they are going to, more often than not, put themselves in a great position to win. Now, if a team is coached to win becoming a better person, better player, do not become the focus. Which is a shame, because that's exactly what sports is not about.

A little extra:

Just close your eyes, and dream of Sunday afternoons with Jordan playing Isaiah, followed by Larry going out to take on Magic. [The Glory days of the NBA]

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