John Wooden has always understood the power of sports to teach good character and the responsibility of coaches and parents to guide young people so they can enjoy and grow from their athletic experience.
During one of my visits with this great teacher, he shared with me this poem from an unknown author. It’s worth sharing.
– Michael Josephson
A Parent Talks to a Child Before the First Game
This is your first game, my child.
I hope you win.
I hope you win for your sake, not mine.
Because winning’s nice.
It’s a good feeling.
Like the whole world is yours.
But it passes, this feeling.
And what lasts is what you’ve learned.
And what you learn about is life.
That’s what sports is all about. Life.
The whole thing is played out in an afternoon.
The happiness of life.
The miseries. The joys. The heartbreaks.
There’s no telling what’ll turn up.
There’s no telling whether they’ll toss you out in the first five minutes or whether you’ll stay for the long haul.
There’s no telling how you’ll do.
You might be a hero or you might be absolutely nothing.
There’s just no telling.
Too much depends on chance.
On how the ball bounces.
I’m not talking about the game, my child.
I’m talking about life.
But it’s life that the game is all about.
Just as I said.
Because every game is life. And life is a game.
A serious game. Dead serious.
But that’s what you do with serious things.
You do your best. You take what comes.
And you run with it.
Winning is fun. Sure.
But winning is not the point.
Wanting to win is the point.
Not giving up is the point.
Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.
Never letting up is the point. Never letting anyone down is the point.
Play to win. Sure.
But lose like a champion.
Because it’s not winning that counts.
What counts is trying.
~ ~ ~
Never mistake activity for achievement.
– John Wooden