It’s hard to believe, but my college basketball career at Multnomah University is over. It’s a bitter sweet feeling that has left me with nothing but thanks. These past four years have been challenging, but rewarding. I would like to share with you some of the lessons basketball has taught me.
1. Person in the arena > Person sitting on the sidelines.
It’s easy to watch someone and critique them. I could enter any college arena, grab a seat, and criticize every player I see. I could point out their mistakes and talk about how I would do things differently. That’s easy; anyone can do that. It’s much more difficult to get in the arena and play the game yourself. It’s a challenge to play a game where your mistakes are made visible to the public, but I would rather face failure in the public eye than privately hide in fear. Anyone can avoid failure, but it takes a special person to meet failure head on. Don’t ever let your fear of failure restrict you from pursuing your dreams. Respect isn’t given to those who hide in fear; respect is given to those who stick their neck out on line. In the game of life, be the person in the arena who gets their hands dirty. Don’t be the person passively sitting on the sidelines safely avoiding failure.
2. Commitment supersedes feelings.
Feelings flee, they come and go like the wind. One moment you are feeling high, the next you are feeling low. If commitment was dependent on feelings, no one would be committed. Commitment supersedes feelings. The length of our basketball season is about seven months in total. There are many times I don’t want to practice at 6am, practice after classes, go on long road trips, etc. On the contrary, there are many times I do want to do those things. When my feelings inform me that I don’t want to practice or play a game, I do it anyways because I committed to it. When you say you will do something, your actions should affirm the commitment you made.
3. Don’t let a good thing become an ultimate thing.
Tim Keller said that “the problem with our world isn’t the bad things; it’s the good things becoming ultimate things.” Basketball is a great game. It is not only fun, but it enables character development. I have seen many players make basketball the ultimate thing in their life. It becomes their identity; the source of their worth. The danger is that basketball is not God. It will fail you and at one point or another your days of playing will come to an end. Basketball is most fun to play when it remains a good thing. It is to be enjoyed, not worshipped. The moment you elevate a good thing to an ultimate thing, take a step back and reevaluate your priorities.
4. Talk is cheap.
This one is simple. You can talk all you want, but if you can’t walk the talk you need to stop talking. I have seen many people talk a big game. They talk about how committed they are to the game of basketball and how much they love it, yet their lives don’t reflect what they say. They say basketball is their first love and that they will always be in the gym, yet they only work hard when people are watching. Talk all you want, but realize if you don’t back that up with action, your words mean nothing.
Basketball has been an invaluable experience. It has helped me mature into a man and has taught me many life lessons. As good as basketball has been to me, I realize it is just a sport. But more than a sport, basketball has been a platform for me to learn, grow, and develop lifelong relationships. I am thankful for the game of basketball. Even more so, I am thankful for each and everyone one of my teammates and all the hard work my coaches do. Those relationships make every second of basketball worth it.