“Play your game”, said former Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks. There are times when there is nothing more fun than celebrating the accomplishments of those who play the game for real. You would think that this has everything to do with winning and nothing to do with losing. But nothing could be further from the truth. In this last week’s sports roundup of leadership heroes, I want to first turn to the losers.
I hate to admit that I consider myself the Grinch of the Olympics. I often refer to most of them as fake sports. Terrible I know. When I see a competition and a bunch of folks hold up cards with numbers on them it just doesn’t feel like a sport. Especially when these so-called judges look like they would themselves be better placed in a mint julep competition. But this time I got caught in the celebration of so many things that I normally wouldn’t notice. Three days ago I woke up to the headlines that an American hurdler named Manteo Mitchell had finished his leg of a relay on a broken leg. Now I ask you–if you’re racing in the Olympics and you finish on a broken leg, how much can winning really matter? Give someone else the medal because what we have here, folks, is a hero. And speaking of real family heroes that happened to lose this weekend, I want to send my heartfelt thanks to my nephew Jake. He represented the State of Idaho as it’s champion in the Little League World Series. We rooted like crazy for the state of Idaho and my nephew Jake and we came up a little short. But it didn’t matter. I got to watch my little nephew on ESPN and he looked like a winner to me.
And now for the winners. I woke up this morning and read that more than two thirds of the gold medals won by the US had been garnered by our women. That news couldn’t help but take me back to 20 years ago when the US women’s soccer team vaulted into national attention. Now you may ask, why is that so important? And any father with a 9-year-old girl can tell you the answer. When that first famous US women’s soccer team filled stadiums with mothers and their girls it brought me to tears. It gave this father something that he could point at and tell his 9-year-old daughter that anything was possible. 20 years later my daughter Kristin is more successful than I could’ve imagined. A business degree from USC might define her for many people. But for me the heart she shows in just her selection of friends, no matter their station in life, is the daughter that I know. So maybe the US women inspired her but for sure they inspired a girls father!
And speaking of USC. I have to point out that Trojan athletes won 25 medals in this year’s Olympics. Now these were not just US medals, but medals for any country for which a USC athlete competed. It is the most one by any university in Olympic history. Heck, USC would rank high on the country list. Fight on!
Celebration for Mexico
And finally some of the best for last. The other day Mexico beat Brazil in the soccer final 2 to 1. As of late Mexico has been enduring some tough social and political issues. Living on the border near San Diego we feel this turbulence and we root hard for our neighbors. And not only did Mexico when the gold medal in the sport that matters most to Latin countries, but they beat the five-time World Cup champion in the process. So if you live in Southern California, notice when you go to the local ‘hole in the wall’ Mexican joint for your wonderful meal, that everyone has a smile plastered across their face. Trust me there isn’t anything that will take that smile off. So don’t forget to congratulate everyone who pulled for the Mexican side.
So to the winners and the losers, to Idaho, Mexico and USC, my hat is off for the inspiration you have shared with all of us. I am sure I will continue to carry my opinion of judges who use flashcards, but just below my prejudice lies complete satisfaction.
photo taken by slworking2 via flickr