"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes...you get what you need!" - The Rolling Stones
Sports can be heart-wrenching sometimes. In the past couple weeks, our University of Denver team lost two overtime games back to back to top-ranked opponents in Notre Dame and Cornell. If we had just won one of the games, we would be sitting pretty with a good resumé for the NCAA playoffs. But, now we have our backs to the wall and will be fighting for our lives the rest of the season. Just one goal in each game separated us from being seen as one of the top teams in the country and back to being lumped in the middle of the pack. Such is life in sports though…as my dad always said to me growing up, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades!".
For me, losing the close big games has never been easy. At first, I always wonder when the game is over what I could have done better as a player or as a coach. I want to go back and change things so the outcome will be different. I feel tremendous disappointment until I finally come to acceptance after a loss. The acceptance that I am usually able to find comes from my faith in that absolutely everything in life (and that includes sports!) happens for a reason.
keep the realizations that our DU team has found out about our loss
within our own family. In simple terms, it has allowed us to see how we
need to grow and improve as a team and as individuals. So, instead of
mulling over the losses and letting it break us down as a team, we are
all learning what we can do to become stronger. Even though we would
have really wanted to win those games, we see now that those outcomes were what was required for us to get better and grow stronger.
This is an awesome lesson for all of us to bring from our athletic experiences into our everyday lives. In our culture, we are told that we should be able to get whatever we think we want or need. That is why a lot of people in our society, despite being incredibly blessed for the most part, live their lives in continual disappointment and sadness. Things happen all the time in our lives that go against what we think we want to happen. The girl we have a huge crush on does not like us back. The job we wanted more than anything is offered to somebody else. The friend that we care so much about does not treat us well. When these things happen, we can either sit on our stoop and mope about it all day long or we can understand and have faith that it is the perfect situation for us to grow as individuals.
In this sense, EVERYTHING that our life offers us is perfect and there is no good or bad situations. Things happen to us simply because that is what is required for us as people to become stronger and evolve further. No matter what happens, it is in our best interest as long as we are willing to take advantage of the situation.
One of my favorite stories is an old Buddhist monk tale. There are different variations, but one of the more popular ones goes like this :
Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.
So, the next time we lose a big game or have something "bad" happen to us in life, perhaps we can have this attitude of acceptance and see that just "maybe" that it is in our best interest. We can ask ourselves what we can do to grow and get stronger from the experience. If we have this attitude, it is very hard to ever lose at anything in life.