I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion. --Mia Hamm
Why do we play sports? Watch the NCAA tourneys for the next 3 weeks. Pain...tears...disappointment...yelling...screaming...national embarrassment...universal criticism and second-guessing...uncommon challenges...defeat...loss...End. Sign me up, right?
Only one team...only one group of individuals...only one set of fans will be happy at the end of it all. Only a teeny-tiny percentage of those involved and those supporting will have a sense of joy when the late great Luther Vandross finally croons "One Shining Moment".
So why do we play? Many of you will say "to find out who the best is." Good answer. Some may say "for the glory" or "for the win". Another good answer. The real reason we play is because of the sacrifice.
I dare you to find me one person on our planet who does the same thing over and over again each day and who is as happy as they can be. Their efforts change no lives. Their investment could be done by anyone with a specific knowledge base or skill, and their only purpose is to make a paycheck to pay for their own personal food, habitation and transportation. What's missing from that life? Sacrifice.
If you are a parent, your professional life may feel like this, but it is because of that sacrifice you are enabled to feel value in a monotonous professional existence. You may be living an existence you didn't choose, but if you are doing it to sacrifice for your family, you have self-worth and value because of that sacrifice. You are making choices that normally you would not have made if it weren't for your internal need to sacrifice for the love you have for others.
If you have never played a contact sport, watch 5 minutes of a game this weekend. Focus on one player. Watch everything they do for 5 minutes, and you will see more sacrifice than you can imagine. They will run, chase, stop and go, hit and get hit, jump and fall, and they will do it all with a billion people watching them around the world. Most would sprint from that type of sacrifice...that type of internal and external pressure. These young people. These coaches. They do it because the sacrifice for each other is worth every possible bad thing that could inevitably happen...for every extraordinary disappointment that they know is completely expected for 99% of the participants.
Whether you are a soldier, policeman, or fire-fighter who is risking/sacrificing your life to save and protect others, or you are a parent, coach or athlete who is sacrificing their time and personal health to help someone reach their potential, it is sacrifice that drives us to become something bigger, better and more significant.
It is also why our deepest hunger as homo sapiens is the hunger for love, affection and companionship. We have this unexplained yearning to connect to others, so we can connect to someone in order to sacrifice for that other soul. In short, we need others in order to understand our own existence.
It is because of this amazing sacrifice that we are all so crazy about filling out a bracket and watching every second of every game. Even when we are not the one doing the actual sacrificing, the opportunity to connect to the transcendence of another's sacrifice provides us with a euphoria that we will never really quite understand...but boy do we want more of it!
What is the moral of this story? The NCAA Tournament is another vast reminder of the importance of living, connecting, and taking chances...even when we doubt our self-worth, value, and capability. As you enjoy every second of the euphoria which will be these next 3 weeks of college basketball, I hope it inspires you to sacrifice to create your own.
Coach Matt Rogers
Phone: (312) 610-6045
Matt Rogers is a 20-year high school and college coach veteran. He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship. His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level. Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 19 years and his two children.
To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.