Life Lessons in Sports

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Column by Mark McFarland, Sports Editor

What can sports teach the world? One of the things that to mind is friendship. Teammates are always there for each other and friends are always there for each other so naturally the two go hand in hand.

When athletes play sports in high school and college they are with their team every day, and sometimes nearly every minute of every day, therefore getting close to one another. Some of people’s best friends in their entire lives are their old teammates.

Day in and day out, someone is always going to need the help that a teammate or best friend can provide. Coaches are always saying to have each others backs no matter what the score is in the game and no matter what the other team is throwing at them. The problem is, sometimes we, as human beings, take it for granted. We will do some stupid things to anger a teammate or a friend and it will be hard to earn that trust back.

This is why teams at all levels will have “team-building” camps or exercises at the end of practice or for a week. The Murray State Racers football team got to go to a team-building experience at Fort Campbell, an Army base on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

Head Coach Mitch Stewart and his football team learned about leadership along with doing some team-building exercises to get the trust between them even greater.

Trust is a bond between people who are close, and that trust can help when teammates can lean on and trust each other to get after it and go hard in the next play, or in life when two or more friends can trust each other and take on the world. Losing that trust, both in life and athletics can take a big toll on how well a fundamental unit can work together. 

Most sports are not individual sports – they are team sports. In team sports, working together and trusting each other is the No. 1 thing that helps a team win a game. During the summer, go look at any high school football team during two-a-days. It will most likely be doing some sort of mental toughness drill at the end of one of the practices. Many of these drills will help bring teammates together and will teach them to learn how to trust one another and work together.

One of the most famous of these drills is carrying a teammate on your back and carrying him the length of the football field. Another drill is where a teammate is blindfolded and has to roll the length of the field with another teammate telling him how to get there, whether to go left, right or straight.

Coaches realize the importance of trust inside of sports and this lesson will help kids build trust outside of sports and in their friendships.

Sports is not just about entertainment; it is also about learning valuable lessons that may help someone be prepared for the next level in competition, or how well someone can do in their life. Life, unlike sports, is not a game, but the parallels between the two are always there.

mmcfarland1@murraystate.edu