Basketball on the Edge – Because I’m Here

“Wow, that practice was tough today. Coach was in a bad mood, seemed like nothing was going well. We just didn’t have it today.”

“We had a substitute teacher today in class. No one was listening.”

“My friends and I had to sit through this boring lecture on our field trip. The presenter was really bad. The audience started making comments and laughing.”

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like one of these? I’m willing to bet that you have. How do you handle it? Are you someone that goes along with the crowd and contributes to a lousy practice, a rowdy classroom, or a rude audience? Does your presence make things better or make things worse?

As a basketball player you represent many different groups when you are at a team activity, at school, or out in public. First and foremost people are judging YOU by your actions. You are also representing your family, your team, your school, your community, and any other groups you may be identified with. What judgements do you want people to make about you and the groups you represent?

Here is a great way to frame your response. “Is this practice/class/situation better because I am here?”

In a basketball context let’s think of a team practice. Is the practice better because you are there? Are you a leader who brings energy, enthusiasm, and effort every day? Even when others around you don’t? That is tough. When other players on the team are goofing off or not listening how do you approach that? Do you join in, do you stand apart from those teammates, do you say something? How could you make the practice better? Not every player will or should handle these situations exactly the same way, but by asking the question’ “Is this practice better because I am here?” you’ll make the right decision most of the time.

As a college player I often looked the other way or joined in when teammates would complain about our coach. I still gave my best effort and tried to do what the coaching staff asked of me during practice, as did most of my teammates, but my leadership skills with other players in the locker room and off the court could have been much stronger. Our team would have been better had I been a stronger leader.

I know there were times early in my coaching career when I was an assistant coach and the mood of the entire practice was dictated by the head coach. If he was off, the rest of the staff followed his lead and didn’t try to change the vibe which would have helped the team have a better practice. Those practices weren’t better because I was there.

At school you’ll have classes with teachers that aren’t your favorites or with substitutes you don’t even know. How you treat those adults will say a lot about you. Do you try to help the substitute or are you in the back of the room talking and causing problems? Do you give your best effort even when you don’t like the teacher? You’re going to have teachers, coaches, and eventually bosses that may not be your favorite all through your life. Figure out how to handle these situations in a positive way and you’ll be rewarded in the long run. Are the classes you’re in better because you are a part of them? Think about this. Does the teacher see your name on the class list and smile or do they groan and wish your name would disappear?

In a broader context you can apply this question to anything you do or anywhere you go. Is the world a better place because you are here? What are you doing each day both through basketball and in daily life to make yourself, your family, your team, and your community proud?

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