I like basketball. Some of you may not know that basketball is a big deal in Maine. On nearly every cold wintry Friday night in the far reaches of northern Maine I guarantee there will be a packed gym in a small town with locals cheering on their high school team. And every February there is “The Tournament” where young kids dream of making the trip to Bangor. I remember the smell of popcorn and the band playing the school fight song and friends and neighbors getting ready for a night of action. And the game was played pretty well, I might add. Now that I’m older I get to enjoy watching my children play and have even had the chance to coach a few of them. Basketball has been a part of my life for a long time. I just wish I could still dunk. But the good news is that my oldest son can, and he now reminds me of it every day.
I know that not everyone likes basketball, and of course that’s ok. “It’s just millionaires playing a game,” some would say. That may be true on one level, but I think basketball can teach us a lot about life.
When I played, I was more concerned with winning and tallying how many points I scored than any “life lessons.” Now when I watch my kids play, I’m more concerned with their effort and attitude and whether they are a good teammate or not. When they make a mistake, I watch closely to see how they respond, and I love it when I see them hustle back and not give up. That’s when I think they’ve actually won.
To me that may be one of the most important lessons that sports can teach us: How do we respond when we mess up? Do we lower our head and jog back feeling sorry for ourselves? Or do we immediately forget about it and move on so that we don’t compound the mistake? In life are we quick to apologize when we offend someone, and do we make amends for our wrongs? Or do we choose to be prideful and not show weakness and pretend that we were right all along? Life is about choices, and sometimes making a choice in an instant. You just missed your fifth shot it a row, you turned it over, so what are you going to do next?
What will you do the next time you make a mistake? And don’t say it won’t happen, we all know it will. If I were you, I’d turn and sprint, get back on defense, and keep playing.
“Making shots counts, but not as much as the people who make them.”