As they say, this one “needs no introduction”. Thanks Ken for passing this along.
Archive for April, 2011
I witnessed a relatively small and yet very positive show of sportsmanship a few weeks ago. I happened to be coming into the Talisman Centre here in Calgary on a Saturday afternoon just as a girls’ volleyball tournament was ending. I couldn’t tell you if they were school teams or club teams but they would have been junior high or early high school age. They were taking down all the other nets and the activity was limited to one court in the far gym – it was the final of the tournament.
Parents were there, as were siblings and friends to watch as the match approached its conclusion. There was loud cheering after every point, and as is the norm in volleyball, the teams came together in the middle of the court after every rally to either congratulate each other after winning a point or to refocus themselves after giving up a point. What really caught my attention though, were two seemingly minor details as to how the teams conducted themselves at the end of the match. One thing they did that I had never seen before was to lie on their stomachs, all in a row, and bang their hands on the floor to cheer on their opponents as they received their medals. And like the players themselves, the families and supporters of the athletes also showed their appreciation for the opposing team during the medal presentation.
I also noticed something a little bit different with respect to the handshake. As is often the case, the teams lined up in a show of sportsmanship at the conclusion of the match. What I really appreciated in this case, was that it wasn’t just two lines walking in opposite directions with a hand held out. They were taking their time. They were talking to their opponents and I can only speculate as to what they were saying but the point is that they were actually talking. There was a lot of nodding, smiling, and the occasional hand placed on the opponent’s shoulder. This showed there was a mutual respect between the two teams.
To many, this might seem like a minor detail. There are those who would say that the main thing was the handshake itself, and even if it’s just a case of two teams touching hands as they walk in opposite directions, it’s still a sign of respect and sportsmanship. I would agree, but this was a little more – a little more mature, a little more respectful, and a bit surprising to me given how young the athletes were. At times like this it’s a little easier for the victorious team to be gracious, but if anything, the losing team was showing a greater appreciation for the victor, and thereby in reality, showed their own maturity and character.
And as is pointed out in the NCAA commercial, the vast majority of the participants will soon be professionals in something other than their sport. In other words it’s important to see the big picture. In the day-to-day world of the average person, how often do volleyball skills come into play? Not nearly as often as the qualities these two young teams were displaying in the process of playing volleyball. Even if a few of them eventually make it to an international level, the benefit of being a part of that team, learning about discipline, learning about focus, learning what it means to build character and show sportsmanship will ultimately outweigh any physical skill they’ll ever learn.
Post number 68 on Sport At Its Best was a short video of a speech given by legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. What I enjoyed most from the video was Wooden’s answer to the question, “who was the best player you ever coached?” because it had very little to do with natural talent and it had everything to do with competing to the best of your ability. Here’s a link to the video / post: http://wp.me/pHILB-bV
With Wooden’s philosophy in mind, that everyone is born with certain natural talents and the true measure of an athlete has more to do with work ethic and dedication, here’s an article that apeared a few weeks ago on newsobserver.com. It’s a very moving story about someone who started out as an equipment manager for the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team and eventually became an integral part of the team. Thanks Brian for sending this to Sport At Its Best.
When Casey Peters was a student manager for Duke, guard Nolan Smith drew motivation from watching him work.
Managers’ duties include wheeling out racks of basketballs, fetching water and Gatorade coolers, rebounding for players and setting up the film room for the players to review tape.
“And when we’d leave the gym, he’d be in there lifting weights, getting shots up, doing whatever it took to become a better basketball player,” Smith said. “He always worked so hard. It was something that really inspired me.”
Tonight, when No. 4 Duke takes on Clemson in the Blue Devils’ senior night home finale (this happened a few weeks ago now), Peters won’t be working behind the scenes. Peters, who worked his way up from student manager to walk-on player to scholarship player this season, will be honored along with fellow seniors Smith and Kyle Singler.