The Most Important Lesson ‘Cool Runnings’ Taught Us

“A Gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” -Irv Blitzer to Derice Bannock after Derice asked why he had cheated in the Olympics.

Winning isn’t everything.

At times it may seem like it is but coaches, captains, players, and parents all need to understand that winning isn’t the goal of team sports. Like Irv (John Candy) says, if you’re not good enough when you lose, you’ll never be good enough when you win. But we insist on focusing on the score or the team record, when’s the last time you heard someone worry about the team culture or player wellbeing? That’s because most of us don’t know how to run a team successfully. 

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Focus on what’s more important than the win

We always talk to the team about being a team. We ask them if they’d want to play on a winning team if it meant they didn’t like their teammates. Most kids say it’s not worth it, other kids you have to make them think about it. When it comes to what really matters you end up caring about the person sitting beside you on the bench, the guy or girl blocking with you at the net, and the person offering a hand when you’re on the floor. Sport is more about learning how to be a good human then it is learning how to win.

Being a good human is the most important part of sports and life. Business people forget this a lot. They forget decisions they make effect the people around them. We forget as leaders that our job is service, not simply arrogant delegation, even though it’s easier. In the long run people look up to someone who said what they did and did what they said. We look up to people who do the right thing even in the moments where they don’t have to. That’s character. I love the quote:

“Worry more about your character than your reputation. Character is what you are, reputation merely what others think you are.” -John Wooden

Being a team is more important than winning

It’s the only way to coach. I used to thinking winning was the be all and end all. I had a couple of really hard seasons of coaching. I hated losing so much it ended up ruining relationships. Other coaches didn’t like me, athletes wouldn’t take me serious, people started hating this “win at all cost” mentality.

Luckily I woke up. 

I stressed and stressed about losing until the season I had with a really fun, yet terrible team. We lost all year long, at Nationals we literally lost every set of every match. That’s right, we didn’t even win a set within a game. Very sad as a coach…..if winning was your only goal. The athletes on that team taught me that winning wasn’t everything to them, they had fun. We had fun playing amazing teams, sure we were losing but we had a blast playing together. That team was 15u, and three years later Five of those boys played on a Senior Boys teams at Winston Knoll that won city’s, tournaments, and lost only five games before provincials. Pretty amazing season.

Losing teaches us something, every time

Every time I lose at Tennis to Garth I get better. Garth is a fire fighter, he’s much better at Tennis than me, but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t play Tennis to win, I play Tennis to get better at a fun sport, for the physical activity, and a chance to hangout with a friend.

Contrary to what most believe, winning doesn’t do a lot for you. Sure in the moment it feels good but you need to be playing challenging opponents, opponents that are going to push you further than you’ve ever pushed yourself.

Challenge yourself to get better. Stop focusing on winning, there’s much more to life. And as Irv says, you better be good enough in losing if you ever think you’ll be content with winning.

Being a good teammate is good enough.