These words have been diluted down to “It’s not if you win or lose, but how you play the game.” These words, contorted but true nonetheless, have been quoted a thousand times. How many a young player has been consoled with these same words after a devastating loss or a deflating defeat? How we play the game is more important than winning or loosing. This is what is taught in “theory” but it’s not always what we do in practice. With this sage bit of advice, win or lose, every athlete can, at the end of the day, walk away with his or her head held high knowing that they gave it all they had and left nothing on the field of play.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. David Ortiz and John Lester. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Jack Nicklaus. Pele. “Broadway” Joe Namath. Babe Ruth. Rivals, teammates and legends alike, these all and so many others knew how to play the game, and they played it well. They were students of the game; they love and loved the game they played; they taught others by their examples what to, and what not to do. How they played was just as important, if not more important, as the game itself.
In Grantland Rice’s poem, “The One Great Scorer” is, of course, The Lord Himself. At the end of the day, He is the one who will “write against our name.” He is the one who is ” lookin’ and bookin’. He is the one who will judge the quick and the dead. And so ultimately, He is the one who decides how we should play the game. And we should play well. We should live well. We should love, give, forgive and be more concerned with how we play the game than with “winning” and “loosing.”
I am writing this blog entry from Rome. Yes, Rome Italy. I believe my trip here is a direct result of how I play the game. I don’t bat .400; I strike out more than I should; I’ve fumbled more than a few times; and sometimes I can”t hit the side of a barn. But I love The One Great Scorer. I love the Lord with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength. Just because I’ve fumbled the ball doesn’t mean that I stop playing the game. All is not lost because of a misstep or a mistake. How I play the game is more important than the stats. He cares not that I win or lose, but how I play the game.
How do you play the game?