Coach K Presents Another Great Lesson

Posted on Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Like most Americans, I’ve been watching as much of March Madness as possible and have been excited by all the 1st round upsets.

(Hey Warren Buffett, I correctly picked 23 of the first 32 games and have 15 of my 16 Sweet Sixteen teams left – how about we just pro-rate that billion payout?)

One of the bigger upsets occurred last night when Mercer beat Duke and true to form, Coach K was as classy in defeat as he is in victory.

Rather than make excuses or point fingers, he simply accepted the fact that his squad got beat by a better team and even went into the Mercer locker room after the game to tell them that.

I’ve spent basically every day of my life since I was 6 years old on a baseball field and my wife is a high school lacrosse coach, so I feel like I have a pretty good sense of the youth sports culture.

One disturbing trend I’ve noticed emerge more and more over the last few years is how players, coaches, and parents immediately play the “Blame game” after a loss or a poor performance: it’s always someone else’s fault.

Well, guess what?  In every competition someone is going to lose and someone is going to win and often, when you lose, you simply got beat – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact, sometimes winning and sometimes losing is exactly what makes competition fun.

The beauty of sports is watching two teams (or two players) play as hard as they can, and because it’s competition, someone is going to win.  This is one of the things that makes “playing the game” fun.

Of course, the “win at all costs attitude” is very dangerous, but learning how to try your hardest, and when you lose, lose with grace, is an essential life lesson.

Have you ever tried to play checkers against a 6 year old?  It’s not much fun is it? And why is that?  Because you’re always going to win!

I for one, never had fun playing sports (or anything for that matter) when I KNEW I was going to win. Where’s the challenge in that?

There’s nothing I like watching more than a pitcher trying his hardest to get a batter out and a batter doing everything he can to hit the ball hard – this is competition in baseball in its purest form.  Sometimes the pitcher wins and sometimes the batter wins.

And a lot of time when you “lose” it’s not anyone’s fault – you just got beat!  And there’s noting wrong with that.  Learn to embrace that part of competition and give credit to your opponent when he beats you.

If we’re always looking to assign blame to someone else when we lose, there’s nothing that forces us to examine what we could have done different or better to give ourselves a better chance of “winning.”  By not being honest with ourselves and simply accepting that we get beat sometimes, we lose the drive to work harder.

Being on the “losing end” should only motivate you to work harder, but too often I hear, “the ump screwed us” or “I had a stomach ache” (yes, that’s a real excuse I recently heard!) or “I was at a sleep over last night” or “the ball took a bad hop” or “my defense made errors” – the list goes on and on.

Work hard, compete hard, and if you lose give credit to your opponent and then go work harder so you can come out on top next time!


See you on the field,

Coach Spring

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