A few weeks ago ex-NFL great Dion Sanders was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In part of his introduction speech, Sanders said he has become the person he is because of football.
Throughout my life, I too have learned many lessons about life from my love of sports; I’ve learned things like respect, honesty, and hard work. To me sports aren’t just a form of entertainment, but they can be a very valuable teaching method.
One of the first lessons I learned in life came from playing Little League baseball. I am left-handed and when I started playing baseball, I loved batting. No one knew how to pitch to a left hander, so nearly every at bat ended with me getting on base, through either a walk, or being hit by a pitch. While I must have had a great on-base percentage, I didn’t bother to learn the fundamentals of hitting.
After Little League, I moved up to play baseball with older kids. To my horror, they were able to pitch to left-handed batters; my on-base percentage fell horribly. I started to work on my hitting. I’d stay after practice; I’d go to the batting cages on the weekends. I had to learn a skill I should have already known if I hadn’t taken the easy way out. I can still remember when I finally got my first real hit (it was a shot down the right field line that I legged out for a double.) From that experience I learned that hard work pays off, and it’s always best to learn the proper way to do things.
Another important thing I have learned from sports is honesty. I have seen many examples of honesty in sports and a lot of the examples I have seen come from golf. In golf, you are expected to call your own penalties. I’ve learned from playing golf with my dad that being honest, even if it goes against you, is always the best. Even if I’ve played a horrible round of golf, there is something oddly rewarding about knowing it was honest, even if I didn’t have a good score. From golf, I’ve learned that it’s always best to be honest.
Sportsmanship is another important thing I’ve learned in my life. When I think of sportsmanship, one of the first things that comes to my mind is an example of someone being a poor sport. A few years ago in the NBA playoffs, Lebron James came under scrutiny for quickly leaving the court following a series loss. James didn’t stay to congratulate the winning team, or to shake hands with his opponents. Instead he quickly exited for the locker room. He did the same thing last year when the Miami Heat was knocked out of the playoffs.
A good example of sportsmanship came from my brother’s high school football coach. Before every game, he used to gather the players around him and would tell them “When we win, we win gracefully. When we lose we lose with dignity.” Those are words I’ve always tried to remember in my life. They are also words which many professional athletes could live by.
When Sanders said that his life was shaped by football and sports, I could relate to his statement. There have been many more important lessons that I have learned from sports. It’s one of the great things about the sporting world: not only entertainment is provided, but valuable life lessons can be learned.