Basketball on the Edge – What Are You Willing To Sacrifice?

A few weeks ago I posted an article from John O’Sullivan from the Changing the Game Project entitled “The Rocky Road to Excellence”. That article focused on reframing the questions we ask our kids when it comes to their future. Rather than, “What do you want do in life?” O’Sullivan suggested that we ask “What are you willing to sacrifice for, to struggle for, and to experience pain and discomfort for? In other words, what dream or passion are you willing to suffer for?” That got me thinking about my journey as a player and what I was willing to sacrifice to achieve my goals.

I looked back at my basketball experience and some of the sacrifices I made in order to play division 1 college basketball at Kent State.

  • In elementary school I woke up early before school to do ball handling drills I learned from reading about Pete Maravich and Dick Devenzio.
  • I spent countless hours in the hot sun, both in my driveway and the local rec park working on my game when others were riding bikes, playing video games, or at the pool.
  • Friday nights I waited in line to pay a dollar and play pickup basketball at a local community college rather than hanging out with friends who didn’t love the game like I did.
  • I stayed away from girls and didn’t go on a date until I was a sophomore in college. Definitely a distraction I’m glad avoided, but not many teenagers would be willing to make that choice.
    On the night of my senior prom I was playing basketball. Don’t regret that decision at all, even retrospectively.
  • Never had a drink of alcohol until I was 25. Didn’t like it, didn’t miss it. Never felt like this was a big sacrifice, but for most kids it probably would be. As a result, I didn’t attend many parties in high school or college. Not my scene. In college I would usually hang out with a teammate that also didn’t drink.
  • Brought my ball with me on family vacation or stayed home as I got older so I could continue to practice.
  • Got my homework done in study hall, rather than talking or goofing off so my work would be finished and I could practice or play more after school.
  • I ran sprints, lifted weights, and did plyometrics to help improve my athleticism. (Never a great athlete in the running/jumping realm I often wonder how far behind I would have been had I not done those things.)
  • Fought through a lack of playing time as a freshman in college to become a 3 year starter.

The funny part of these “sacrifices” is that I didn’t look at any of these things I did or didn’t do as sacrifices. They were choices that I made that helped move me closer to my goals as a basketball player. They were easy choices because they were what I wanted to do. The fact remains that I was willing to make those sacrifices to succeed. No one forced me to miss parties, avoid drinking, practice long hours I just knew that I had goals in the game that couldn’t be accomplished without those sacrifices.

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