Get in the Game: Sports as a Microcosm of Life
The act of playing team sports can (and does) teach young student athletes extremely valuable life skills that are needed to not only survive, but thrive in the real world after the schooling years. These skills consist of teamwork, (positive) aggression or assertiveness, initiative, physical exercise, sportsmanship/respect, learning to be coachable, learning how to “lose” the right way, how to compete, how to finish, and how to get up when you’ve been knocked down. I think we can all agree that each of those skills are invaluable for leading a successful life.
I was prompted to write on this topic while watching my 4 and 6 year old daughters playing in their soccer games. We like to jokingly say that one of them plays “zone defense.” She’s always on the outside of the action and only plays the ball when it comes to her. She’s not aggressive or assertive and thus she never gets any opportunities to score. On the contrary, my other daughter is super aggressive and assertive. She’s always going into the action and making things happen, and thus she’s always creating opportunities to score and that she does.
Now I want you to imagine a circle with several dots in it for a moment. Got the visual? The outer edge of the circle represents the barrier to opportunity. If you’re always on the outside of the circle (like my one daughter) you won’t get many opportunities to score or be successful. The game takes place inside the circle. If you want opportunities you must get in the game! This is an active process. Opportunities do not just come to you. You must create them with your actions! Both of our daughters do many different things well, but this is definitely an area we need to work on with one of them. Hey, at least she’s there, but now she needs to get in the game and stop being a spectator.
This might sound crazy, but I can usually tell if an adult played team sports growing up. I see it all the time and I’m sure you can too. Think about all the adults you interact with. Do some of them not work well on a team, are not assertive, don’t take initiative, don’t value exercise, are disrespectful, not coachable, don’t handle adversity well, don’t follow through and finish? I can almost guarantee that most of those people you thought of didn’t play team sports growing up. Do this exercise for yourself sometime and try to determine if those types of people in your life were team sport athletes or not. Or better yet, you could even ask them directly to get further clarification. I bet you won’t be surprised by what you find. Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t make them “bad people.” It just means that they’ll need to develop these essential skills another way. Let’s just hope they do, for their own sake and everyone else’s.
I’ll leave with this question. What about you? Are you in the game or are you a spectator on the sidelines of life?
If you want to get better… If you want better performance… And ultimately, if you want to win in life. You have to first, get in the game!