There is one man I will always look up to and admire above all others. He is my career advisor, life coach, and best friend. He is my Dad. As with most fathers, he has worked to pass on his advice on all the various aspects of life based on his own experiences. There have been times when I have rolled my eyes at his advice or ignored it, but when it comes down to it, I have found it to be invaluable. During one of our phone calls this week we spoke about a lesson he was helping one of his coworkers to teach his son. It is the lesson that sticks out most to me when I recall memories of my childhood: gracious winner, gracious loser or as Dad says for short, “GWGL”.
These four simple words have taught me more about sports and life than any others. It means to always be a great sport, regardless of outcome. It means to shake hands with your opponent, congratulate them on a great race/game, and to always show respect for them. It means to practice “The Code” as told in our video from Nebraska Football: “If we should win, let it be by the code, Faith and Honor held high. If we should lose, we’ll stand by the road, and cheer as the winners go by.” My Dad would always tell me “GWGL” before and after each game. Though this advice was not always the easiest medicine to take, I always found I felt better about myself when I heeded this advice.
Dad and I during a baseball game in my younger years.
It seems these days that sportsmanship is becoming more and more of a lost art. The commercialization of sports paired with big egos has seemed to cause many to forget the basic meaning of why we play. Sport is not about multi-million dollar contracts, large stadiums, endorsement deals, or fame. In its most elemental form, sport is about inspired competition against yourself and against others. As I watched the US Olympic Marathon Trials, I realized that this is one of the many reasons why I love running so much. When it comes to sportsmanship, I can think of no better showcase than running. There are no personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in running because they are not necessary. The running community is about having a great race as defined by you and encouraging others.
My challenge to you for the week and throughout your life is to always be a gracious winner and gracious loser. Before the race wish your opponents good luck, offer encouragement during the race, and congratulate them after. It does not require much effort to implement these actions but offers a large reward. It is a great reflection of self and showing of character. You can be sure that if I should ever decide to go down the road of marriage/kids, the first lesson they will be taught will be “gracious winner, gracious loser”.
Always In Stride,
Dad and I soaking up the wonders of the world.
Song of the Week – Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons
Quote of the Week – “Simply trying to define sportsmanship, I think most folks would agree, responsibility and self respect, qualities that today seem in short supply at times. If character is what you do when no one is watching, then perhaps sportsmanship is that conduct with everybody watching. Frankly, the sports industry would probably survive without sportsmanship. It’s so large and so well financed, but it would be refreshing if more parents and coaches, more administrators and more journalists, and especially more players realized there is room to win with flare and style and even get rich and still keep the values that first brought us here to the games.”- Bob Ley
Video of the Week – Nebraska Huskers Code