I’m frustrated. Everywhere I look I see Christmas decorations, already! How can we be in such a hurry to bypass the significance of Thanksgiving? Unfortunately, our society jumps ahead with a lot of things, so why not jump to the gifts of Christmas? Does anyone else have a problem with this? I have similar frustrations when basketball players and teams ignore the concepts of gratitude and thankfulness. It just doesn’t seem to fit in a sport so reliant on teamwork and unselfishness. In my mind, if you play basketball, especially in college or the pros, you have something to be thankful for and showing gratitude becomes an important indicator of the quality of your character. Whether it’s how you respond to fans or support staff or how you treat your coaches and teammates, take a moment to consider that for which you can be thankful!
BASKETBALL – Wise words from the Wizard of Westwood
Growing up, the first basketball lessons I can remember that were attributed to John Wooden were “learn to put your socks on properly” and “always acknowledge a teammate who passes the ball to you for a score.” As Pat Williams explains in How to Be Like Coach Wooden,
Coach Wooden insisted that his players always acknowledge the help and support they received from other members of the team. For example, a player who scored a basket after receiving a pass from a teammate was expected to acknowledge the assist as he headed back up the court to play defense – usually by pointing, smiling, winking, or nodding at the man who had helped create the scoring opportunity.
That should be pretty basic, shouldn’t it? Then why do we still have to point that out? Day after day, many players ignore the work done by managers, trainers, and media relations members to assist them on the floor. A quick “thank you” or an offer to help out goes a long way in expressing gratitude, not to mention keeping players in a healthy, positive nature during the grind of a season. Recently, I’ve seen players struggle with the early part of the season. Things may not be going the way they want – playing time, scoring, winning; often times players can develop some negative views. It’s important to daily consider the benefits of playing and of being on whatever team they have been given a spot. Find the good things. Be thankful and express that thanks. It’s impossible to be thankful and negative at the same time! If you doubt that, consider the case of Zach Hodskins:
Not only does Hodskins play well with one hand, he excels and will take his game to the highest level as a walk-on for Billy Donovan at Florida. But even more amazing is how he expresses his gratitude in how he plays and how he reaches out to inspire others as detailed by CBS Sports. He has every reason to be frustrated, but hasn’t allowed his challenges to get the best of him. Instead, he plays with a sense of gratitude.
LIFE – Take a Gratitude Walk
I love this advice from motivational writer John Gordon as he expressed in The Energy Bus and The Positive Dog – take a daily 10-minute Thank You Walk. Spend time thinking out loud about things for which you’re thankful. We may do it around the Thanksgiving table this weekend, but gratitude is a positive emotion that can change your outlook on a daily basis.
Over the years, this has been a struggle for me. It’s easy to get down about losses, on the court and off. It’s even easier to allow it to affect other areas of my life. Expressing gratitude and taking the time to consider the good has been invaluable to me, whether I do a walk like Gordon suggests, or jot things down every day in my journal. It’s impossible to be thankful and stressed at the same time! And in relationships, it’s amazing how quickly conflicts can be dealt with after taking a quick gratitude moment to find the good in another person. When I’m angry or disappointed with my kids or with players, taking time to consider the wonderful gifts they are helps me open a positive discussion. When I’m frustrated with my work situation, I can find the good and adjust my attitude. That’s what gratitude is all about!
FAITH – Wise words from Paul
While it’s not considered a Biblical holiday like Christmas and Easter, the idea of Thanksgiving really is something to celebrate; but just as our society has twisted and disfigured the concept of Christian holidays, it’s no surprise that we tend to miss the true meaning of the celebration. Do we really need to get an early start on Black Friday sales? In fact when you read George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation and the thoughts of many other presidents who called the nation to devote time for thanking God, you realize very quickly how we’ve twisted the concept. Thanksgiving, though, does not require a holiday. It needs to part of our daily lives. Paul encourages us:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
So, whatever happens in your life, find a way to be thankful. Find the good! Thank God each and every day, not just during ESPN Feast Week! Happy Thanksgiving!