That was the best game I saw you play

My daughter Amaya and her team recently got completely killed by another girls’ basketball team. (In case you haven’t noticed, I spend a lot of time at team sports. What can I say? I’m a suburban mom.)

Her team, even though completely overwhelmed, fought valiantly, working together, boxing the other team out and relying on strong defense. But the other team was taller, stronger and better. So they lost—by a lot.

After the game, Amaya was expressing her frustration about her teammates and their defense, upset about her teams’ loss, and I said to her, “Amaya, that was the best game I’ve ever seen you guys play. You worked together, your defense was strong and you never, ever gave up. That’s beautiful basketball.”

Sometimes the game is rigged; sometimes other people are just better

It’s hard to accept in life: Sometimes we show up 100%, do our best, and the other person is still better. They win. And we don’t. And it hurts. It hurts a lot.

But one of the major themes of this blog is learning from our mistakes and failures, and picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off. Nancy Kerrigan, after being hit on the knee by Tonya Harding’s boyfriend, right before the 1994 Olympics, became a household name, and a worldwide superstar—because of that incident. She was signed by Reebok and featured in a commercial, where you hear her voice layered over scenes of her practicing and performing, “There is a voice. I know it well. It’s the voice of doubt that creeps in and doesn’t let go. If I’ve learned anything about getting stronger, getting more competitive, I’ve learned that you can listen to only one voice. The one that says, get up.”

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

And that is the lesson to Amaya and her teammates and to you, your employees and your children—it’s more that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. It’s that we fight through the hard times and we’re proud of our performance even when the chips are down.

Amaya and her team never gave up, never said, “Forget it—these girls are better and stronger. We’re just going to phone it in.” They worked hard to make the point spread respectable and more than that, they could be proud of the way they worked together.

When things are down—either in your family or at work—remind everyone that it’s our choices and our behaviors that define us. No matter what the circumstances. Let’s play the best basketball game we can, even when we know we’re going to lose.

2 thoughts on “That was the best game I saw you play

  1. I have watched my kids get clobbered in many soccer and basketball games. It’s hard. But losing is such a valuable learning experience that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I tell my son that even if he knows he’s going to lose, he has to keep fighting until the end. If he gives up and hands the other team their win, that’s when he really loses. He loses his opportunity to learn resiliency and how to have grace and character even when you don’t win. It’s such a valuable lesson that everyone will face in their lifetime, whether they like it or not. The sooner they can learn how to handle that and pick themselves back up, the better.


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