Sports and the philosophies therein invade every part of my life. Rarely a day goes by without watching ESPN, talking about sports or reliving the memories of competing over the years.
However, not much can top a good sports analogy and life is a playing field of sports parallels.
Each day of life can be compared to a game. We go through slumps, hitting streaks and strike outs. We experience buzzer beaters, homeruns, touchdowns and letdowns. We have highs and lows, victories and defeats, records set and goals exceeded.
While we may feel like the athlete in control, sometimes people affect our game.
Sometimes, like in the case of Armando Galarraga last years, you have a perfect game going and a blown call in the ninth inning shuts it all down.
In that situation, when you have no control except over your reaction, there are two choices:
You can either embody a deserving mindset, throw a pity party and become a victim of circumstance. Or, you can shake it off and realize whatever you do won’t change the past but can affect the future. Then walk back to the mound and continue to throw strikes.
One option cripples you from going forward and one propels forward movement. The choice is yours.
Think about it, sports are mostly about reactions and anticipation. If an opponent does something on the field, you have to be ready to respond with something else.
In the same manner, “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it,” John Maxwell said. And the character of a person is revealed in those tough times, when their back is against the wall.
The way people handle those situations, whether on the hardwood, the green or in life, exposes the truth of their personalities.
In life, as well as sports, sometimes people have your back, sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes you’re on a team and sometimes you have to face opponents on your own.
Sometimes you want to live in the past and watch the highlight reel of your glory days on replay in your mind but eventually you learn you can’t live on past victories. Sometimes you have to focus on tackling the situation at hand.
In sports and life there are the obvious leaders, the quarterbacks and team captains, whose passion and confidence blazes a trail for others to follow.
Alternatively, there are the less aggressive players who would rather play the supporting roles rather than take the entire spotlight.
There are times in life we are tempted to throw in the fancy moves, the show-stopping plays and attempt to play beyond the necessary when what is really needed is a return to the basic fundamentals.
Sometimes we want to stand out and make a name for ourselves but seldom realize if we just practice the basics we will stand out, because, according to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work.”
In sports you realize you cannot do it all on your own, you are dependent on people whether they be on your team or not and others are dependent on you.
It’s easy to make decisions when the outcome only effects you, but when one owns they are a part of a team, more selfless decisions will be made in order to do what is best for the group as a whole.
The same is true for life; we need each other and can’t make a decision without it directly or indirectly affecting someone else.
Even spectators in our lives can influence the way we live with encouragement or heckling just as fans can build up a team or tear them down with a single word or gesture.
Sometimes circumstances arise when taking risks is necessary. The results of that risk and jumping out of your comfort zone can be the difference between a top-10 play and a not-top-10 play. If you succeed, you’re the hero, but if you don’t you’re the butt-end of jokes.
Sometimes the situation looks hopeless and you’re tempted to lose heart and give up but somehow find the courage to scrape up an ounce of endurance and push through to the finish line, learning the impossible was possible all along.
Sometimes you find a way to win despite circumstances or what people tell you.
Sometimes life is fun and sometimes it takes everything you have just to push through to the end of the day.
Sometimes fears must be conquered before triumph can happen. The fear of failing especially has to be overcome or you will second guess every decision and never have the confidence to excel.
Sometimes athletes have to sacrifice things to succeed, whether it be alcohol, parties on game nights or just hanging out with friends because of rigorous training schedules.
The same is true in life – sometimes sacrifice must happen in order to achieve something greater.
In life and sports you never stop learning, never reach your full potential and never stop being capable of more.
The courage to keep learning and excelling after failure sets champions apart from the spectators.
Sometimes a sport is someone’s life and sometimes life is a sport.