Last night, I attended a high school boys basketball game at my school. It was the conference opener between two teams predicted by many to finish in the top half of the standings. As expected, it was an intense contest that was decided by one point only after the losing team missed a last second 20 footer. Afterwards, a friend of mine from the opposing community said to me, "I've known many of these people a majority of my life and always find myself surprised by how vocal they get. When they are at a game, their persona is very different than what it is in any other setting I see them in." Why is this?
For some, our emotionally charged behavior is a result of a highly competitive nature. For others, we so desperately want our kids to be successful that we get wrapped up solely on the outcome and lose sight of the opportunity. We’ve grown up in a culture that has taught us to value winning …and that’s a good thing. What isn’t a good thing is when we start to believe that if you’re not THE winner, you’re A loser. When we start to accept this philosophy, we become willing to do anything to win and anyone that can’t help us win becomes the enemy and a target for our displeasure. Players lose faith in our their teammates. We question the motives of the coaches. We forget that officials are only human and occasionally make mistakes.
Respect the game by respecting all those who are a part of it. Show consideration for their efforts and value the role they play. Mistakes will be made by everyone who participates in a game…EVERYONE. Accept this fact and move forward. How you chose to react when those mistakes are made will reveal more about you than the person who made the mistake. Be loud, but be positive. Be intense, but be appropriate. Compete hard, but compete clean. When we make "how the game is played" as important as "who wins the game", we will obtain Victory with VIRTUE. Remember…without teammates, opponents, coaches, or officials, there would be no game to play.
Channel your inner Jekyll. Leave Hyde at home.