The game of life is a lot like sports: true champions come back

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Commentary by Mike Grayson

Time now for ‘Coffee Sports Talk’. I will give you the topics; Does one team’s comeback necessarily mean the other team choked? Or, how do you hold the score down on your team when your opponent seems to be determined to allow you to run it up? Next, should your team suffer an upset loss to a lowly opponent, should your AD merely fire the coach or should he hand out 40 lashes on the campus quad to the inept coach? Finally, other than writing a sports column is there a tougher job in the world today than coaching football?

Now, talk amongst yourselves.

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It’s absolutely certain the DHS Tigers are Region 4 champs. It will not be official until Friday assuming a win over Livingston. The ‘Tiger Express’ rolled into, over and through Eutaw last Friday annihilating the Greene County cardinal Tigers. I am not sure I have ever seen a game get out of hand in such a rapid sequence of events as this game. The entire second quarter was one mistake after another after another after another by GCHS that resulted in Demopolis points. The River City Bengals scored in virtually every conceivable manner possible. Only the lack of scoring by way of a safety, a field goal and a kickoff return prevented DHS from turning a gridiron ‘hat trick’.

Sports, and especially the game of football, can teach you a lot about people and life. Obviously, there are times when you must handle adversity. There is a philosophy I install in my insurance agents I am charged with training: “It is not important what happens to you, but rather how you deal with what happens, is what is important”. The saying “be a good loser” has no credibility to a competitor. Rather learn from your mistakes, remember the heart break of defeat and vow to do everything in your power never to come up short again.

“Being a good winner” is equally important. Unfortunately, many of our big time athletes are poor, at best, role models. Taunting opponents, grandstanding, showboating,

‘it’s all about me’ demeanor is not the way a true champion carries himself. Granted, success can be intoxicating. Enthusiasm is the fuel for a real player and an absolute must. The ability to handle success with dignity, class and dare we even mention sportsmanship is the mark of mature winners. Little things, rarely noticed by the majority of the general public, can give you a glimpse into the mindset of a winning attitude.

Allow me to give you a good example of the above. Two weeks ago, in the DHS win over Jemison; the Tigers already had the game in hand. On one particular play William Burrell, the Tiger fullback absolutely wiped out a Jemison defender with a crushing block. Rather than stand over his oppugnant who was laid out flat and gloat like a high school version of Bruce Bosworth, Burrell stuck out his hand to help the guy up. I was impressed.

In America today, being #1 has become an overriding obsession. Everybody seems driven to be #1 in something even if it is public enemy #1.You don’t have to be #1 to be a winner. The paradox continues, winning all your games does not automatically make you a winner. The ability to handle success and the victories will result in more triumphs on and off the field. Make no mistake there is no substitute for victory. The reason they keep score in a game is because somebody has got win and somebody’s got to lose. Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, has a simple philosophy, “Just win, baby”.

Several schools in our area that have certainly consistently tasted the sweet nectar of success over the years are the Demopolis Tigers, Southern Academy Cougars, the Marengo Academy Longhorns and the Sweet Water Bulldogs. While the others have clinched their division or just locked up a playoff spot the Longhorns have suffered a humbling season in 2004.

True champions come back and keep coming back. They are not intimidated by big name, high profile Goliath type opposition. They do not panic when they are written off and pronounced DOA by the media or the fans, they hang in there. They go at it one play at a time; one set of downs; one possession; one at bat; one pitch or one shot.

Yep, I do believe the game of life is a lot like sports.