Sports teaches life lessons

Published 7:41 am Tuesday, January 12, 2016

For the proponents of athletics, this is yet another example of why you should let your children compete in sports.

Following Sunday’s dramatic loss by Minnesota to the Seattle Seahawks, Vikings’ kicker Blair Walsh, who missed the game-winning field goal in the closing seconds, was taking a lot of heat from the fans and the media about his failure to connect on a “chip shot” field goal.

In the locker room, according to reports, the media swarmed around Walsh at his locker where he took full responsibility for missing the kick.

Walsh, who was a sixth round draft pick of the Vikings in 2012, did not blame his holder, punter Jeff Lockett. He did not blame long-snapper Kevin McDermott.

He took the blame for missing the kick.

“The whole thing is on me,” he said. “Jeff did his job, Kevin did his, I’m the only one who didn’t … these guys deserved to win and we didn’t.”

Walsh stood there like a man and took the heat. He did not make excuses for his miss and he did not point any fingers at his teammates.

Of course, the crush of media departed when they got their sound bite and that is when he reportedly broke into tears as he sat there alone.

This is where the lessons learned through sports come into play.

Instead of ostracizing Walsh, his teammates one by one came over to hug and comfort him.

You are taught from a very young age that sports like football are team games. You are taught that you win and you lose as a team. There is no one person who loses a game or wins a game.

We unfortunately live in a society that wants to create “heroes” out of everyone and likes to lay too much credit on one person and too much blame on another.

What sports teaches our children is to work together as a team. It teaches them that the sum of all parts is greater than any one piece.

It also teaches youth how to deal with adversity and success.

In today’s society we see, far too often, people who are unable to deal with success or adversity.

I wish we all could have witnessed what happened in the Minnesota locker room Sunday because we need to be reminded from time to time that this is just a game.

As former Dowagiac coach Bernard Thomas used to tell his players following a loss, “the sun will come up tomorrow.”

And the sun did rise in Minneapolis Monday morning and life went on. The world did not come to an end because Blair Walsh missed a field goal in the playoffs.

So the next time your son or daughter is upset over losing a game, take the time to share with them the proper perspective on where sports fit into our society and their lives.

Teach them that being a good person and handling success and adversity with the same level of emotion will benefit them down the road as they grow into adults.

Sports are a great teacher of life lessons. Let your children participate in as many of them as they can.

It will benefit them in the long run.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at