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A Parent Talks to a Child Before the First Game

Tom Fakehany

Iíve quoted before in my e-notes from one of my favorite little books called Wooden: A lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by former UCLA Coach John Wooden. Hereís another marvelous passage called, ďA Parent Talks to a Child Before the First Game.Ē John Wooden in true "Mr. Rogers Style" councils:

This is your first game, my child. I hope you win.  I hope you win for your sake, not mine.  Because winningís nice.  Itís a good feeling. Like the whole world is yours.  But, it passes, this feeling.  And what lasts is what youíve learned. And what you learn about is life. Thatís what sports is all about. Life. The whole thing is played but in an afternoon. The happiness of life.  The miseries.  The joys.  The heartbreaks.

Thereís no telling whatíll turn up. Thereís no telling whether theyíll toss you out in the first five minutes or whether youíll stay for the long haul. Thereís no telling how youíll do. You might be a hero or you might be absolutely nothing.  Thereís  just no telling. Too much depends on chance. On how the ball bounces.

Iím not talking about the game, my child. Iím talking about life. But itís life that the game is all about. Just as I said.  Because every game is life.  And life is a game.  A serious game.  Dead serious.  But thatís what you do with serious things.  You do your best.  You take what comes.  And you run with it.

Winning is fun. Sure. But winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point.  Not giving up is the point. Never being satisfied with what youíve done is the point. Never letting up is the point. Never letting anyone down is the point. Play to win. Sure. But lose like a champion.

Itís not winning that counts. What counts is trying.