What is the true value of sports? It teaches you how to lose. It has a unique way of making you totally humble and forces you to take your over-inflated ego, stuff it in a duffle bag and walk away with a whole lot less arrogance than before.

And that's a good thing. A very good thing. Having to deal up-close-and-personal with your own imperfections and failures is much more valuable than winning. Anyone can be a good winner, that's easy.

Now don't get me wrong, being gracious in victory and not rubbing your opponent's face in it is noble indeed, but it pales in comparison to the life lessons learned from defeat. Coming out on the short end of a final score or decision serves as a strong reminder that life is not a perfect ride; there will be bumps ... major bumps ... along the way. Such adversities and the ability to accept them, swallow your pride and move forward with dignity are the things that build true character. Enduring character. Character that lasts a lifetime.

Any person who has ever participated in a sporting event, whether organized or just a pickup game on the sandlot, knows exactly what I'm talking about. While you dream of making that game-winning basket at the buzzer or smashing a grand-slam home run in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and your team down by three, the reality is usually quite the opposite. The odds of those scenarios actually occurring are slim indeed, but hope does spring eternal and you press on in the quest for one of those heroic moments.

Searching for that elusive magic is one of the intriguing and ever-addicting parts of participating in sports. You know it probably isn't going to happen, but you also know it can ... and so you dig into the batter's box and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, that pursuit of athletic "immortality" usually comes at a price ... a steep price. You know all-to-well "coming through in the clutch" just doesn't happen with any consistency, period. Interestingly enough, however, you are more than willing to accept failure in an attempt to reach the mountaintop.



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