5 differences between sports and life
This column series has largely focused on what sports can teach us about life. There are, however, some things we do in sports that never seem to find their way into real life. I’ve compiled my top five list below.
While there is definitely national debate over corporate punishment, there is one place a slap on the bottom is quite common – sporting events. I can’t remember how many times I patted my friend Kirby Yoder on the bottom after a great shot during a basketball game. It’s just what we did after a great play.
I’ve had several jobs since my high school basketball career, and never have I patted a co-worker on the backside after a great sale or a great story. In fact, I’m pretty sure we all sign something that says we won’t do that.
Crying after a loss
I was a salesman in Atlanta for a while after graduating. I had some weeks that I just rocked, selling massaging gels left and right. But then came the week when I was supposed to sell cleaning products.
“James,” said my boss. “People are selling these bottles of ‘Whip-It’ like hotcakes. You’ll make some easy commission this week.”
With too much confidence, I entered that grocery store. I set up my booth, made an announcement that I was handing out a free product, handed out that free product and then gave my sales pitch. And then everyone left. I was disappointed, but I did not cry.
When my basketball team lost to the team from Canada in double-overtime (I wrote about that in an earlier column), I was devastated. I walked to the corner and wept.
Shaking hands with competitors
One of the most difficult things you can do after a tough loss in sports is shake the hands of the players that just beat you. You just spent an hour and a half dropping every ounce of sweat you possess on that court. You gave it your all, but it just wasn’t quite enough. Now, drained emotionally and physically, you have to get in a single file line and congratulate the players. It’s no fun.
After a slow day at Olive Garden, I never walked over to Valentinos and congratulated them on a more successful day. That’s just not how it works.
Most jobs have a dress code. Every job of mine since high school, except for my short stint as a butcher, had a dress code. When many people go to work, they are expected to meet a certain standard. Every job is a little different, but there is generally some sort of guideline.
In sports, my teammates and I spent most of our time together with ripped shirts, messy hair, sweat pouring down our bodies and, frankly, a terrible stench often filled the room. This was not only acceptable, it was kind of required.
Putting the team first
Many businesses claim to have a team mentality – working together for a common goal. As a salesman, more sales for me meant for money for the company. That’s how most companies work.
Athletes will do things for the team in sports that they would never do for their company. A player will dive straight at a wall just to try to pass the ball to a teammate before it goes out of bounds. A player will even foul out of a game if it means stopping the other team from an easy two points late in the game.
The saying goes: “There is no ‘I’ in team.” It’s true. A player will (or at least should) do whatever it takes to help his or her teams win the game. The player then lives by that motto the entire game, with no thought of the personal statistics gained or lost by the mentality.
Most of these five characteristics seen in sports are never seen in the real world, and it’s too bad.
No, I’m not condoning spanking in the work place, but how much better would all of our Monday’s be if we stopped talking behind each other’s backs and gave each other a few high fives instead?
I’m not saying we need to cry after a bad day, but what if we took pride in our jobs? What if every day we woke up in the morning and said, “I’m going to give my very best today?”
Most of us probably won’t be singing the praises of our competitors anytime soon, but it’s good to admit every once in a while that someone is doing something better than you. And after you’ve admitted it, challenge yourself to do better.
We should probably all wear deodorant to work, but what if we collectively worked hard enough to build up a sweat? What if we worked that hard in our marriages?
What if we put the interest of others above ourselves?
Whether it be in work, in marriage or in friendships, if we lived the way athletes do every day, this world might be pretty awesome every day.