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Monday, January 07, 2019



Honorably building sound minds and sound bodies

It’s refreshing to see the non-profit Tri-Municipal Park Inc. readying multi-play fields, sand volleyball courts, disc golf, an orchard, walking trails, a pavilion and more on a 165 acre Centre Hall parcel. 

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When sports persons start utilizing these play fields soon, a hope of mine is that playing fair will be a prime principle used during their healthy competitions.

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Many psychologists talk about how playing fair in sports is more important than winning. Some overly obsessive winners want to crush their enemies and will do whatever it takes to win, even if that means being cruel or cheating. Strong lessons from youngster’s clean-living days in sports carry over to real life. If parents help their children to be fair and fun to play with, then others will want to line up to play with them. We should be teaching our children ways to develop their characters and do well at winning at life. And star players are those who can help their teammate’s blossom into becoming better players and people. 
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For the love of the game, when the park officially opens more fields this year it would be nice to see respectful community members christen an entrance sign reminding players of how integral fair sportsmanship is. Perhaps the Tri-Municipal Park board can take suggestions to include persuasive sporting slogans and motto's on such an inspiration park entrance sign.


2 comments:

JBanholzer said...

The mythological status that we bestow upon winning sports icons is inspirational, but all too often our must-win culture deems the person who places second a failure.
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Take for instance, Germany’s Jan Ullrich: Here is a man who actually won the Tour de France bike race back in 1997 and earned second five other times. Mr. Ullrich is also a gold and silver medal Olympic Champion. Yet, in 2005, right before that year’s race, USA Today portrayed Mr. Ullrich as an ‘also ran’ saying,”He lacks mental toughness” (Reibal). Here is a super athlete in the top one-billionth percentile of all human racers; yet the media continuously portrayed him as a loser.
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Something needs fixed with this societal failure when according to such doctrines; if you are not sitting on top of the world you are a letdown.

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The same goes for professional sports at many levels. Even though Boston and New York’s baseball teams sometimes win pennants for World Series berths, unless the team actually wins the series, it is a tough traumatic event for the team and that team’s city! Enthusiasts, whose teams score second, truly believe that their lives as fans would have improved in magnificent ways, had not the most infinitesimal of heartless pebbles shifted an easy grounder, to bobble on an erroneous course through their first baseman’s legs. When this happens, teams instantly trade ‘losing’ players, while managers’ heads get the chop. For years, fans caught wearing the insignia or even colors of the trailing team, become subject to ridicule -at least until that next rematch. Sometimes this happens even when the team is generating millions in profits, and would be considered successful by most other business model measurements.
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The honorable thing to do when this happens is to ignore this mockery, while attempting to gain character from the process. This is not easy, as there are hundreds of Monday morning ‘expert’ pundits for every professional player and coach. Yet sports figures with integrity can rise above this common challenge and prove successful by disregarding this emotional blather; knowing that as important as fanzines portray these games to be, they can look to many other vital things in life to gain rewards from. True superstars often use lessons distilled from their competitive glory days to shine in non-sports related venues, contributing comprehensive assists to the downtrodden.
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Sportspersons have much to live up to, when glorified as idols that represent everything good in this weary world. A few aspire to and actually reach this high standard and are worthy of such idolization. It is excellent when they attain this level, but even the most glorified of heroes make mistakes. Being subject to failure humanizes the most respected of sports idols, but if they handle this quandary properly, they can come away even more victorious, albeit human. Paradoxically, being fallible enables humans to overcome mistakes, achieving higher levels of admiration than they could if they were actually flawless entities.

JBanholzer said...

How often in life, have you heard someone say about a traumatic event, “I wish it hadn’t happened to me, but I’m a better person for it?” In Kathleen McGowan’s Psychology Today article, “The Hidden Side of Happiness” she shows how a rich rewarding life often requires a messy battle with adversity and that we have a built-in human capacity to flourish under the most difficult circumstances. Thus the paradox, “what doesn’t kill you can actually make you stronger.” We sometimes confuse adversity with failure; therefore making a distinction between the two can be healing in of itself. Knowing that you have given it your best at a sporting event or some other task, yet did not ‘win’ first place, should not by any means disallow you to proudly walk away from your valiant efforts.
In the mountaineering community, there are several well-documented incidents of professional climbers attempting to ascend high peaks, and then due to safety or weather concerns, turning around within shouting distance of the summit. Jon Krakauer, in his award-winning Into Thin Air chronicles the case of Swedish ultra-athlete Goran Kropp. After traveling from sea level from Sweden on a specially built bicycle laden with 240 lbs. of gear, robbed and beaten along the way, Mr. Kropp finally reached the base of Mt. Everest, intending to climb it without bottled oxygen or Sherpa support. After a few training days, Goran reached 26,000 feet, aiming for the top the next morning right after midnight. Krakauer’s eagle-eyed perspective recounts:
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“For the first time in months almost no wind blasted the summit, but the snow on the upper mountain was thigh deep, making for slow exhausting progress. Kropp bulled his way relentlessly, upward through the drifts, however, about by two o’clock Thursday afternoon he’d reached 28,700 feet, just below the South Summit. But even though the top was no more than sixty minutes above, he decided to turn around, believing that he would be too tired to descend safely if he climbed any higher.
To turn around that close to the summit (Rob) Hall mused with a shake of his head on May 6 as Kropp plodded past Camp Two on his way down the mountain. That showed incredibly good judgment on young Goran’s part. I’m impressed, considerably more impressed actually, than if he had continued climbing and made the top.” (Krakauer).
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Therefore, it is nice to see that at least in mountaineering circles, you do not have to park yourself on top of the world to be a winner. Principled warriors from other avenues of life would do well to take note of this. Being able to analyze mistakes, remember and learn from them, applying them to future tests, is one of the highest aspirations achievable and a fundamental nature of wisdom. Studying and learning from our failures can be a great human gift.
Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?