A Part of the Game

“The only way to not get beat is to not play the game”

I can’t exactly trace when or where this nugget of wisdom was bestowed upon me; but it has stuck with me most of my life as a player and a coach.  I held onto it as I missed tackles, got beat on passes, and made mistakes on the football field.  Now, it is something that I constantly share with my athletes as a coach and try to remember in the game of life.

The idea is that no matter if you’re Micheal Jordan, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, or Babe Ruth at some point you’re going to get beat.  It’s inevitable that a mistake will be made, plays will be blown, and a competitor/team is going to get the best of you.  The only way it doesn’t happen is if you are not playing the game.  

Everyone loses, misses shots, strikes out, fumbles, etc.  You will never compete at your highest level trying to avoid those moments or by allowing them to get the best of you.   A player can’t give their all if they are overly concerned with getting beat or if they can’t recover after it happens.  It’s bound to happen.   

Alonzo Mourning is a prime example.  The 7’1 NBA center made a living off of blocking shots.  Mourning and anyone who plays basketball is aware that every time you attempt to block a shot, you open yourself up to get beat. 

There are plenty of instances (like the one above) of Mourning being posterized by other NBA players.  However, he never let the fear of getting beat stop him from playing the game and trying to block shots.  He retired as a two time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

The only true safety from being beat comes from watching from the sidelines or sitting in the stands.  It allows for easy criticism of others playing and denies the blame from ever being put on you.  At the same time, those positions don’t allow you to catch the pass, make the tackle, score the goal, block the shot,  or hit a homeroom.  By not playing, there will be no agony of defeat; but there will also be no thrill of victory.  Both are a part of the game and you can’t have one without the other.  

As I share this with my players, I hint that this adage applies to life too.   No one wants to get beat; but if you live, you are going to.  If you don’t experience the defeats of life, the question becomes are you really living? Are you honestly playing the game or watching from the stands? By avoiding the agony associated with the game of life; you can never truly experience the victories that come with it either.    


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