Winning can be easy
Dear kids: To win is difficult. But, winning is easy. I know, this sounds funny and I’ll explain. I wouldn’t bring it up except, as your coach, I think I’m supposed to do more than show you how to hit a fastball, field groundballs, and reveal the proper positioning for cutting off throws from the outfield.Although now that the season is over and it may be more useful to you if I demonstrated the proper way to oil a bicycle chain or the art of ding-dong ditching a crotchety neighbor’s front door, as a coach I am expected to impart my wisdom on the same subject that all coaches have been relegated to talk about since Cro-Magnon man first tripped across a cheetah in the jungle, and the race was on. Winning – it’s all anybody seems to care about these days.That’s unfortunate. As I started out saying, to win is difficult. Not everybody gets to experience it. Most people can count the number of times they’ve “won it all” on their thumbs, with at least one left over.That said, winning is easy. In fact, there is nothing easier in the entire world than winning. This is the main reason why so many people want it, crave it, even live their lives for it. Winners don’t have to bother themselves with soul-searching soliloquies (look it up) in the middle of the night. Victors never have to contemplate the value of hours spent training. Champions are not forced to wonder about whether or not the toll that competition takes is worth it. There is no pain in a “W.” In short, winners are given their rewards while losers have to dig deep in large empty holes to find theirs.Here’s the thing you never hear, though: I don’t believe that winning has ever made anyone a better person. I know, that’s hard to believe because winning is so important to us. But, I drove halfway through the state of Texas, which is like driving completely through three of any other states combined, trying to come up with one example where winning changed someone for the better, and I couldn’t.I thought about sporting events, job promotions, contests, awards, and people who have closed big deals of all kinds. The best cases I could come up with were for a few exceptional people who were good enough to begin with so that success didn’t change them. For the majority, victory altered them for the worse. All you need to do to prove this is ask some of their old friends about them now and then count the dwindling number of new ones that can truly be considered dear.After a ginormous victory, you will hear some of the biggest winners that cable TV can broadcast in high-definition across the world thank everyone from God to their parents to shoe manufacturers for giving them the opportunity to succeed. This usually comes right before more steroid injections, partying with thugs, mistreating animals, ignoring their families, contests to see if they can drink faster than they can drive, and assorted other methods of showing that they actually respect nothing but themselves.The confusing thing is that these are our heroes. We want to be like them because society has proven through its reward system that it is much more profitable to be an irresponsible jerk spoiled by success than a responsible person growing and striving to be better because they have learned from the struggles of life.So, with this sad assessment, do I think winning is bad? No, winning is not bad. Winning is only a result. The truth is that it can’t be good or bad. The same is true for losing. It is we who give these things value and importance, or not.Here’s another thing you won’t hear very often: It’s okay to be happy when you lose. Sure, winning can be a good measure for how well you played. It is proof that training and hard work pay off. Remember, though, you can play well, train hard, do all the right things, and still lose. It’s just the way sports, and life, go sometimes. So, if you give it all that you’ve got and lose anyway, why shouldn’t you feel the same way as if you had won? Think about it.I hate to admit it, but we adults oftentimes set bad examples when it comes to winning and losing. We get so caught up in keeping up that all we end up caring about are results. We forget about having fun, finding fulfillment, and doing little things we are truly proud of along the way.What I am trying to say is that winning cannot be the only reason to play if you want to be truly happy. Above all, it is important to enjoy the process of participating. If you go out onto the field, in a game or in life, you must learn to be completely satisfied with giving a good effort. That is all that you have control over. After that there is nothing to do but accept the results, hopefully with high spirits, good will, and a positive outlook.Winning really isn’t everything. What is important is that you immerse yourselves in your young lives and do whatever you do with passion and delight. The reward will be the joy of loving who you are. It is the satisfaction of knowing you are living your life to its full potential. It is believing that you already possess everything you will ever need to be happy.Now, you may wonder where a coach comes up with stuff like this. You may be surprised to know that it came from you. I learned a lot this summer. I watched you play, on the field, in your backyards, all over town, in fact. I saw you come together as a team, encouraging and helping each other, solidifying friendships. You won and lost with grace, dignity, and kindness. Most of all, you always had fun. The best part about winning is that you get to keep playing. You guys played like you didn’t want the season to end. Neither did I.I thank each of you for sharing with me your wonderful perspectives. I hope you keep them with you the rest of your lives. I’m proud of you.Oh, and by the way, congratulations on winning the league championships.The Snowmass Village Bees are Liam Keelty, Christian Lewis, Alex Hoover, Dylan Rosenfield, Kellen Kremer, Colter Robinson, Ben Kanan, Josh Baker, Max Marolt, Mitchell Weiser, Matthew Ferguson, Ben Belinski, Django Bonderman and Davin Wilkenson. Roger Marolt can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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