[UPDATED 11 Dec 2012: originally posted by me on Sept 30 2012 on another site, pictured above is a summer youth sports camp sponsered and ran by a local church that introduces children to all kinds of sports]


A little while ago, I was reading sports articles on YAHOO Sports and came across a soccer story headline:


“Miroslav Klose scores with his hand, admits it to ref so the goal is disallowed”


This got me to thinking. What could we learn from this? If we all lie, deceive, cheat or steal then the world is a very dark place and change or moving forward can never happen. It was nice to read a story where someone admits responsibility and tells the truth. Sports have great teaching and learning points. I tell my children that sports taught me how:


PRACTICE AND HARD WORK DOESN’T GUARENTEE SUCCESS: The amount of sweat and hours of the same fundamental drills and practice does benefit us, but doesn’t guarantee success in a game; if success is measured on if we win or not. In life this is important to understand in the current state of the economy. Just because you work hard, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a pay raise or promotion. Just because you go to college doesn’t guarantee you will get a job right after you graduate or a job at all. Just because you studied hard for the exam doesn’t mean you will earn the grade you want or even pass.

IT IS BETTER TO PLAY BY THE RULES AND LOSE: Games have rules, so does life and people cheat. The joy from cheating last a second and then you have to justify why you would have won without cheating. I am glad my coaches taught me winning isn’t important, but how you play the game is. The moral and ethical high ground is always the best place to be. You will hear people say; in order to compete you have to play the game like your opponent does (using steroids or dirty politics as an example). No I don’t have to lower my standard, I would much rather lose a competition then lose my dignity.

TO BE HUMBLE: if you are destroying a team, don’t run up the score. If you win don’t brag. Or you’re not always going to have the best players (team) and you will be on the receiving end of being beat badly. In adult life this translated into greater understanding and humbleness. As an example I am blessed with a loving family and others may not have this blessing or a job, house, reliable transportation etc. We give back (in many ways) when we are able and sometimes even when we are not able (charity).

SENSE OF PRIDE IN COMMUNITY AND NATION: We start the game off with our National Anthem. We place our hand over our heart and see all the people in the stands on their feet with hand placed over their heart singing our Nation’s Song. I am PROUD of our Nation and the FREEDOM we enjoy. If we make it to All-Stars, we represent our recreational league, county, state or our Nation (little league world series for example). Our Parents are team moms and dads, help coach, run the concession stands, chalk the field, officiate our games, etc… THEY give back to the community that is worth so much more than just money.

RESPECT: We respect the authority and hierarchy in and around the game; examples: veteran players, parents, coaches, referees. By learning not to mouth off, yell, curse ect… my childhood family values were reinforced by sports. “Yes sir” and “Yes Ma’am” became second nature without complaining or excuses following those remarks.

TEAMWORK: In team sports, no one player wins or loses a game. It takes a team to win. We have all heard the saying, a team is only as good as the weakest link, so we all work to make that person’s skills better. This has served me well in my adult life; rarely do I ever work alone.

GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP/SPIRIT: Encourage others to do well. I know it isn’t always easy to say, but I like good competition where both teams do their best. It carries on in watching sports now. I don’t like a “blow out”. I enjoy a good “nail bitten” game that both teams are in it until the end!

PRAYER ISNT MAGIC BUT IT IS REAL: I am telling you that I did pray hard before every game to win, stay healthy and play well. But, I learned from sports that I may WANT something really bad, but it doesn’t mean I will get it because I prayed about it. I didn’t understand why we lost at the time, I or someone was injured or I may have not played well. Now looking back I understand; I learned that it is ok to do your best and not win, when people get hurt other people help them and I am human and can not be perfect. I also know prayer helps heal before, during and after the game. Prayer helps teach us that this is just a game!


PS: I realize there are many other reasons and I left them out on purpose. I would love to read what other positive things others have learn from sports?


As always thanks for reading.


Views: 79

Comment by The_Traveler on December 11, 2012 at 5:00am

John, why do you think that prayer helps? and what does it do?

Your including it seems totally external to any issue about playing the game.

Comment by John Fleshman on December 11, 2012 at 5:09am

Hi Traveler, wonderful question.

Prayer as stated above [for me] helped me learn the power of prayer just like all the other things I mentioned. Many Americans associate prayer on Sundays or at dinner. I also associate prayer and athletics; to me they went hand in hand. It helped me feel grounded before the game. During the game when times were tough or stressful or if someone was injured, because of my faith it forced me to put myself aside and pray for someone else even if I was ok or doing well. After the game, I prayed again for many things. Sometimes I would even pray and ask why? Why did something bad happen? I found out so many answers. Granted they weren’t right away sometimes, but when the answers we given, I understood clearly why.

I am not saying everyone has to have faith or pray in sports. But to me it was part of my childhood and I could not separate playing sports and prayer. Many others may have different experiences.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on December 11, 2012 at 5:17am

Among my longstanding joys is the framed photo of our elem sch football team w me smack in th middle...and the joy's multiplied when I think that numbers of those fellas...we're all pretty close, today, despite the distances.

Comment by The_Traveler on December 11, 2012 at 5:19am

My experience with religious people has been mixed, unfortunately.

If prayer and belief ennobled everyone, then belief, even if it was mistaken, would be a great thing.

Unfortunately it seems the other way around, good people are good people and if they pray, that doesn't hurt them. The proportion of people who are innately dishonest, cowardly, evil, whatever seem relatively unaffected by their belief; they put it on and off like a coat.

I try not to expect anything more from belief or believers and thus am not ever disappointed.

Comment by John Fleshman on December 11, 2012 at 5:24am

JW, I was just looking at some rec and school photos... we had a ton of great parents, coaches and kids. I was very lucky to have such a newtwork of caring people; we also stay in touch. Social media has helped keep us upto date on many things to include our friendships from sports!

Comment by John Fleshman on December 11, 2012 at 5:41am

Traveler, my experience is also mixed but I don’t worry about it anymore. It is a person’s individual spiritual, religious, or something else journey; not mine.

This is why I left religion out of the post. However, prayer is universal. I thought your question was a wonderful one because you asked, not only, why it was included by how it helped. Based on your comments, I am sure you understood why I included it and how it helped me.

When it comes to religion, I think people, for lack of better terms I will quote LTG Honore, get “stuck on stupid” and can’t understand the different in “freedom of religion” not “freedom from religion”. Just because I pray does not mean I am infringing on your rights, I am just exercising mine. If you don’t believe in a God, then you can exercise your right not to pray to a God, if you believe in a different type(s) of God(s) then you may also pray or choose not to, or if you worship something that isn’t considered a God, you too can pray or not pray. It is your choice and you have the freedom to pray or not pray.

I am a pretty tolerant person. So I don’t get stuck on religion too much.


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