9 Things I learned from Sports

First published at 1 Cornithians 13 Parenting.com on March 17, 2015

” Its the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”


I grew up in the 1970’s and most Saturdays we sat down as a family to watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The opening segment was always the same, dramatic music playing while various athletes raised their arms in victory and then the next clip showing a skier catching an edge and flipping end over end until he lies in a heap of defeat. The announcer saying, “ It’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” It was something I looked forward to watching every week.

It was also the era of women’s gymnastics with the likes of Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci. I aspired to be like them. I was part of a gymnastics club and at the age of 5 I started practicing everyday and had childhood aspirations of going to the Olympics. I trained hard and had a lot of success taking my turn at the podium with my arms raised in victory. I competed until I was 18 so I also had my share of not standing on the podium and sitting in the stands defeated or injured. Both situations shaped who I would become as an adult and I am very thankful for the role sports has played in my life.
In the last few years I have had the privilege of watching my kids participate in sports and I can tell you the lessons they have learned from competing, being part of a team, stretching their bodies and minds to compete at high levels has been inspiring.

Sports has a way of uniting groups of people in community like nothing else. ( Just ask my fellow Denver Bronco fans).
I know there is a lot of negative press about athletes too and that yes you can learn discipline from music and art as well, and I would agree. However, for those of us who have pushed through adversity and performed beyond ourselves, there is something unique and special about that.
We have entered the Month of March and in the US that means March Madness and all of our TV’s and phones are tuned into the college basketball world. A few years ago I was talking with a friend of mine, who happens to be my pastor, and he came up with a list of what he has learned from sports inspired by watching the Final Four tournament. I have added to that and with his permission I will share our list.
There is no substitute for hard work and attention to detail.
Teamwork is the building block for future relationships.
Passion makes a BIG difference.
Practice and commitment create great time management skills.
We all need coaches to get the most out of us.
There are rules and referees that, if not followed, will bring disqualification.
Without discipline and commitment you cannot become great.
There’s offense and defense, not just offense, and not just defense. You need to become good at both.
Winning and losing are both realities and you must learn to deal with both.
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1b
To the kids on the soccer fields and the parents who are driving them around town, to the high school and college athletes, to the few who become elite and the weekend warriors they become, be thankful for what you have learned and will be learning from the wide world of sports!

What would you add to the list?