Finding God's Winning Spirit

Always Being #1 Can Be #2

May 4, 2015 | Greg Smith | Sports


A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to present a paper at the Sports and Values conference at Newman University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This two-day conference addressed sports from various platforms ranging from increased concussions to sport and spirituality.

One of my favorite presentations was by Gary Bernstein from the University of Louisville whose session was entitled, "Sports Has the Power to ….” Gary opened his session by asking this question, "When your 12-year-old comes in the house after a Little League game what is the first question you ask them?" Of course we all answered in unison, "Did you win?" It was obvious that no matter what we say about the importance of winning to our children it is ingrained in us that winning is the most important thing. Mr. Bernstein subsequently asked us to ponder the thought and possibility that we have turned the scoreboard into idolatry.

The goal of any athlete is to win. In athletics winning is everything. John Madden once said, “The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion. No one remembers anything else.” Paul (Bear) Bryant has been quoted as saying, “Winning isn’t everything but it sure beats the hell out of anything that comes in second.” We all have heard, and probably agree, that “nobody remembers who came in second.” Every kid on the playground fantasizes about making the shot at the buzzer to win the big game; they don’t dream of missing the shot or coming in second.

I get all this and from an athletic point of view and from understanding the coaching environment, winning always triumphs "not winning". I have also said in this blog on more than one occasion that we live in a win or lose culture — it is all or nothing. In light of all this I must say the for me this is a pretty limited definition of winning. Living by this definition produces very few winners and a whole bunch of losers, very little success and a mountain of failure.”

Someone out there, some time, in some situation said, "Winning isn't everything." I am sure that whoever was around looked at them like they were stupid or insane. The fact of the matter is it better not be everything.

We as parents and coaches better come up with alternatives to "winners take all" concepts and language. Why?

 Because it just isn't true.

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