By Fritz Knapp
Lacrosse Coach and Author
Compassion: “No greater love has man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend.”
Each of us has an innate desire to win, and this is reinforced by our sports coaches starting at an early age. The best coaches bring out the fighter in us without belaboring the necessity of a positive outcome. Usually hard work produces good results, win, lose or draw. Stepping back from the contest to see how each player is contributing to a team effort, and how their attitudes towards each other make for a cohesive, unified team, is as important as teaching the skills.
As a young athlete, I was the most self-centered and least sportsmanlike of the bunch. I didn’t want to just win…..I wanted to humiliate my opponent. This attitude pervaded every contest, from back-yard football to gym class and organized little league. I was quickly becoming a braggart and a bully. Meanness defined me better than any other attribute. I wanted much too badly to be noticed for how good an athlete I was, and went to great lengths to prove myself.
My father worked hard over the course of about two years to root-out this attitude, by monitoring my athletic behavior and pulling me aside or making me sit out when my selfish desire to win at all cost reared its ugly head. I now see that it was the best thing he could have done for me at that moment in time. Instead of becoming maniacal, I grew circumspect, aware of other players and their talents. I became more of a team player, for which I was known throughout my high school and collegiate athletic career. Caring for the needs of others, whether a fellow athlete or a person on the street, has been the greatest lesson I have learned in sports.