By Fritz Knapp
Lacrosse Coach Virginia and Author of "The Book of Sports Virtues"
Appreciation: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
Sports require an expenditure of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy. Those who participate in sports appropriate these energies and their God-given talents to the highest degree possible. Many times even their best effort doesn’t produce great results. The measure of true greatness, in sport as in other important life activities, is how adeptly one views the outcome through the lens of long-term perspective: what did I learn, how did my effort impact others, and in the heat of the battle, did I keep my wits and provide leadership to my teammates?
The bulk of my life since age 25 has been a wild ride of raising children (three boys), multiple career changes, overwhelming joy in the familial sense, but more than a mild psychological discomfort eventually diagnosed in my early 30’s as chronic depression. Battling this inherited condition on all fronts, but most importantly through prayer, has required more energy of my loving and patient wife, sons, and me than at times any of us thought we had to fathom. Failure, though evident at times in my career, was not an option when it came to personal and familial sanity. On more than one occasion, I realize now, I was on the brink of losing everything God had so graciously given me. Faith, family and a few close friends lovingly sustained me through those darkest moments.
It’s important to remember that “failure” is purposeful. Inner strength, not just the outpouring of physical energy, is required to keep going in the face of disappointment and heartache. Taking stock of the greatest gifts in life is necessary at all times, but most importantly when the chips are down. I do this daily in an “appreciation prayer” every morning. I give thanks for all life’s blessings, especially the ones I might otherwise overlook: health, family and my students. It keeps me focused on the awesome goodness of God, and helps me keep the frustrations that arise every single day in proper perspective.