Life lessons learned on the court

Published 7:45 pm Friday, February 10, 2012

Cover 16 high school basketball games in two weeks like I have and you will come away with some new perspectives.

It could be some life-altering realization if you want it to be. More likely, it will be some simple observations about the subtle nuances of the game and how most high school players miss them completely.

It isn’t their fault really. High school kids don’t get nuances very easily. They are more easily enamored by the flash and pizazz of things.

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They like the fresh and the new. Theirs is the iPhone, iPad, Twitter, Facebook generation. It is obsessed with instant gratification.

Maybe that is why there are so many bad basketball teams at the high school level. A generation obsessed with instant gratification can scarcely slow down long enough to appreciate the small steps it takes to achieve greatness.

Being a great basketball team, or a player for that matter, is the result of a tedious process.

The process is intense, focused and detail-oriented.

Most players and teams refuse to commit to the process. So they end up involved in games where there are more turnovers than minutes played. They get hung on the rim when they attempt to throw down a dunk they thought for sure they could make.

They see the ball roll as much as it bounces. They settle for easy shots and they often blame their deficiencies on someone else.

But, in that way, basketball is a lot like life. Most people don’t put in the time it takes to better themselves. They fail to see that greatness in any venue is the result of a tedious process that requires time and intent focus.

Achieving it often requires getting hung on the rim, but also requires getting back up and changing the methodology that led to the failure.

That is what is most frustrating about high school basketball. The kids who get hung on the rim once will usually get hung on the rim again and again, never changing anything.

But it is the rare player, the great ones of the world, that recognizes who he is. It is that player that will overcome adversity with his strengths and work to get better.

If he can’t dunk, he’ll lay it in. It he can’t drive, he’ll shoot. He may not get it done the flashy way, but he’ll find a way to beat his defender. He’ll overcome. And when the high school game is over and real life has begun, he’ll do the same there. He’ll adapt. He’ll overcome. He’ll achieve. And he’ll do it all while people around him constantly get hung on the rim because they refuse to work, to change, to improve.


Jeremy D. Smith is sports editor of the Demopolis Times.