March 20, 2014
Spring has officially begun and it’s March Madness time. I didn’t play ball in college, so my heart pitter-patters listening to the shoe squeaks that will happen on the Williams Arena floor for the Minnesota high school basketball tournaments.
There is magic in the air and it is anyone’s game. There is also madness in the air—and madness is defined as both:
1. the state of being mad; insanity.
2. intense excitement or enthusiasm.
Growing up as a three-sport athlete and team captain, I learned firsthand about teams and what makes them coalesce and excel. I have experienced how sport can elevate the human spirit or crush it into tiny little pieces. Every day I utilize the skills I learned while being an athlete, team member and captain. Work ethic, flexibility, respect, positivity, support, self-expression, investing in the human spirit, believing, trusting…wow…I could go on and on.
When I read “Blind Your Ponies” by Stanley Gordon West, my heart felt as though I was listening to a game on the radio. The anticipation, the heart, the possibilities—everything was breathing. It is a book about the indomitable, unquenchable human spirit and revolves around a tiny, down-on-its-luck, in-the-middle-of-nowhere small town and its basketball team. The author had successfully captured the feelings and motivations of a small town.
I grew up in a small town and it was way bigger than Willow Creek, the town in the book. Growing up in a small southeastern Minnesota town, I saw the impact that sports had on people looking to connect to something bigger than themselves.
People need to have faith and hope and sometimes athletics can provide both. The characters in this book all had their own very personal pain and showed how depending on others can free one to be strong and independent as a result.
We each have the opportunity — whether as a player, a coach, a parent, a friend — to love the game, love the competition, love the madness and still, inside of all it, choose our words wisely.
This has been going around and I think it is really simple and wonderful and go ahead, say it. The only six words parents need to say to their kids about sports are: “I LOVE TO WATCH YOU PLAY.”
An additional wonderful resource is: http://minnesota.positivecoach.org/
I have a very competitive spirit and I love a good challenge, but I also love that feeling you get when you invest in the human spirit and it pays off.