Basketball was like therapy to me. I lost three friends in car accidents during high school and it changed who I was for a bit. Basketball brought me back. I would not be here today writing this column if it wasn't for basketball.
The Minnesota State High School League introduced a new campaign called “Why We Play” this year for coaches all over the state to partake in.
The goal for this program is to show coaches what really matters when they are coaching and help find the reasons why athletes play the sports they do.
I had to go through this training as part of my junior high basketball coaching job coming up. I thought it was a great program for coaches to see what really goes on through an athlete’s perspective.
The program really focused on having joy and fun with your team and that should be the ultimate purpose. I agreed with a lot of what the program offered, but I think they didn’t put enough importance on winning and losing. Let me explain.
There are many reasons I played basketball throughout my life. I simply love the game, but there is a whole lot more of a reason why I played than just simply loving the game.
Basketball was like therapy to me. I lost three friends in car accidents during high school and it changed who I was for a bit. Basketball brought me back. I would not be here today writing this column if it wasn’t for basketball.
An empty gym in the morning or late at night, the gravel driveway where I would spend time dribbling and shooting––that’s where I was able get away from the world and its problems and enjoy the game that I truly loved.
When life’s problems and issues became too much, basketball was always there.
Winning and losing games is just as important to the development of players as simply creating fun and stuff of that nature.
Learning to win and be humble, while learning to lose with class is something that becomes a greater lesson than anything in sports because it relates directly to life.
In life, you are going to win and lose. Sometimes it may seem you lose more than you win. The end result isn’t what matters though. It’s how you accept what has happened, and how you become a better person after it.
I think that should be the reason athletes play the sports they do, combined with the love of the game.
As a coach, you’re not only developing athletes for the next level of play; you’re developing the next boy or girl into the next man or woman.
Charles Barkley had the popular quote on whether athletes should be a role model, saying, “I’m not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball, doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”
Well, like it or not, Barkley, and coaches, you are. Your players look up to you not only to win games, but to hopefully become better people in a world where there aren’t nearly enough.
As a coach I love to see players grow in their development of the game, but it’s even better to see the people they become.
My high school basketball coach is a big part of who I am today. His impact on me went way beyond basketball. He made me a better student. He made me a better athlete. He made me a better man.
I hope that kids today are playing the sports they are for all the right reasons, and I hope coaches are coaching for the same reason.
My goal as a coach is to have the same impact my high school coach had on me. To make my players not only better athletes, but also better people in this world by sharing my love of the game with them.
It’s more than a game.