More Than A Game
Ever since I was a child, I loved the game of basketball. The speed of the game, intensity, and aggressiveness of the basketball stars always got me excited to watch them play. Little did I know that playing basketball would have a much greater impact on my life than I could have ever imagined. It all started with me spending time with my cousins watching the games on television every day. Watching the sport constantly made it intriguing for me to start playing the sport at the age of 10. I would practice dribbling around the backyard and go to local parks to practice shooting the ball into the basket.
I always thought I knew what I was doing in the sport until I actually learned how to professionally play the game at the age of 13. A group of my friends and I went to an indoor gym to practice and run a couple of games. One of my friend’s cousin showed up and decided to watch us play. After the game, he pulled me aside and told me I was playing the game wrong. It was then he taught me how to shoot the ball, dribble, play defense, make good passes, you name it. He was like a mentor to me and taught me everything I needed to know. Throughout my years of playing basketball, I learned that basketball is more than just a sport and can teach people a lot of life lessons.
One of the lessons I learned was that life isn’t fair. I soon learned that when the referees in the game were making horrible calls or calls that didn’t make sense at the time. It seemed that all the calls that were being made never went our way and the referee never made the correct call when the call needed to be made. One bad call that I will never forget was a call in a playoff game that would have won us the game and move on to the next round. It was the last quarter with the score being tied and it was our possession of the ball with 5 seconds left on the clock. The ball was in my hands and I drove to the basket going for a layup. The ball went in the basket and the intensity of the crowd and my teammates went out of one’s mind. It was then the whistle went off and the referee made the call. The call was a charging foul which occurs when a dribbler charges into a defender who has already established his position and you already know what that means. The basket didn’t count and the possession of the ball was turned over to the opposing team. The call left me and everyone in disbelief. That call had everyone and myself arguing with the referee but we knew that we would never win an argument against any referee. We soon lost that game in overtime and got eliminated from the playoffs. Bad calls happened a lot in a lot of our games so I learned to accept it and just move on.
Another life lesson it taught me was how to have good sportsmanship. Playing any sport in general involves both a winning and losing team. After every game that my team and I play against, no matter the outcome, we would always shake hands with the opposing team and tell them it was a good game. It was a form of respect for both teams. If we win, we learn to be proud of our success without despising our opponents or if we lose, we learn to accept our failures and come back stronger next time. Over time you will realize it’s not really the win or loss that makes a difference. If you gave everything you’ve got, no matter what the outcome is, you can walk away with your head held high as my coach always said. This also applies in life too that everything you do does not always go your way. Everything is a slow process but quitting won’t speed it up. There are highs and lows but if you continue to give whatever you do your very best you will always feel victorious.
Basketball has also taught me that nothing comes easy in life. It all comes down to hard work and dedication. A lot of the stars in the league states that they didn’t make it here by luck but by all the hard work they put in everyday to deserve to be in the league. If you really want to excel at something, hard work is the only way. My teammates and I had to put in hours of practice every day after school. Our coach would always push us beyond our limits. After every practice we would be drenched with sweat. Coach told us if we wasn’t drenched, we didn’t put in any effort at all. It is the same with any other field in life. If you want to get better at school or get a raise at your workplace, the only way you can do it is by hard work. There are no shortcuts to this. We are always taught to dream big but what we don’t realize most often is that our dreams don’t work unless we do. There is no substitute to hard work, ever.
In basketball, you are taught to never give up. A few minutes can change the game in so many ways. You keep trying until the very last second. During a game that determined if we were going into playoffs, most of my shots wasn’t going in and we were down by 10 with 3 minutes left on the clock. I felt hopeless, tired, and even wanted to give up the game. My coach then sat me out and told me, “You can never give up, not on the game, not on your team, and especially not on yourself.” He even quoted which I later on found out it was a quote from Michael Jordan: “I would tell players to relax and never think about what’s at stake. Just think about the basketball game. If you start to think about who is going to win the championship, you’ve already lost your focus.” And I will never forget those words as they sparked a fire in me. I then came back into the game and helped my teammates in whatever way I can to win the game. In life too, there will be many occasions where you will want to give up, but you need to not give up because we all know things take time.
The most important lesson that basketball has probably taught me is leadership and communication. A lot of the games that my team and I played, I took charge if the captain of the team or the rest of the team isn’t communicating. I would be the one to call certain plays for us to score to get their adrenaline flowing on the court for us to win the games. During the preseason games, the team wasn’t communicating on the court since the games didn’t count towards our record but that doesn’t mean for our team to not play their heart out on the court. So I took on the captain role and made sure our team was communicating, scoring baskets and winning the game.
To a lot of people, basketball is just a game because majority of the people just watch the players play and don’t know what the players go through and learn. I believe it can teach people a lot of lessons by playing the sport. It has certainly taught me a lot of life lessons that I would have probably never learned anywhere else as effectively.