For Love of the Game – Bringing It All Together – Mondays with Matt

I want to talk to you all about another basic sports and recreation concept that can get lost on us as we grow older. As we grow older, we are constantly taught to look how to improve, how to follow best practices and how to add value to ourselves and our teams. Indeed, many of our coaching discussions this year have essentially been best practices and how to guides. As you grow older, whether it be work life, life in general or sports & recreation, understanding these tools and concepts is crucial to continuing being able to do them. However, we must never forget why we do what we do in the first place. What I am getting at here is that on the journey to becoming the best that you are capable of becoming, don’t forget to have fun.

Why do you play baseball? Softball? Why do you play soccer, hockey or basketball? Why do you golf or be part of the cheerleading team? You take part in these activities because you enjoy them. You enjoy them to the point that you want to be good at the parts that make up the sum of the activity. You enjoy them because you are part of a team. You enjoy them because there is some unexplainable force that gives you enjoyment from the activity. No matter how far you advance (or don’t advance), never let that joy be taken away from you. In their purest form, sports and recreation are vessels on enjoyment for those who take part in them. Yes, sports are economic drivers. Sports are character developers. Sports are opportunity providers. But they offer the most to those who never lose their interest and passion in the game. That is how you become a lifelong student of sports and of the world around you. By having a passion for it.

For me, I love the game of baseball. I enjoy all sports, but baseball was the first sport and recreational activity that grabbed hold of my imagination. My playing days and talent ended a long time ago. Yet, here I am, trying to pass my knowledge on to all of you. Would I be able to do that if I did not enjoy sports? Probably not. What has allowed me to stay connected to sports is my passion for sports. While the world of sports has broken my heart before, I never stopped loving it. I never stopped enjoying. Sports, in its own way, gave me an opportunity. It allowed me to be me and for me to show to myself who I was. It helped build me.

Why was it athletics that gave me this opportunity and this enjoyment rather than, say, playing a musical instrument? That is the unexplainable part. Sometimes, something just grabs you and doesn’t let go. I can’t explain why I fell in love with the game of baseball and why the magic of that experience left me wanting more. But it happened. And so it has with millions of others.

As we work towards returning to normal and as we discover our true passions in life – sports, recreational activities and other endeavors – let us never forget that magic spark that led us to that activity to start with. Whether you are a mechanic who saw that spark in a vehicle engine or whether you are a basketball player who once saw footage of Pete Maravich playing and were inspired, that initial spark is what started the heartbeat towards us being the best that we are capable of becoming at an activity that we love. Never forget that beginning and never lose that spark.

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