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Just get better

January 1, 2013
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor

"It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling." - Proverbs 20:3

We are not a content society.

We want more faster.

We want information within about 2.2 seconds.

We want everything to be tied in a bow like an episode of NCIS, CSI or Cold Case.

We want a Twitter update now.

In seasons 10-13 at UCLA, basketball coach John Wooden went 64-39 and didn't go to the postseason.

Now, those numbers get coaches fired because they made no postseason appearances.

In his first three years ar Duke, Mike Krzyzewski went 38-47.

If that happens now to a college basketball coach, there is no Year 4.

Since then, he has been to 11 Final Fours with four national titles.

The year before he became the head coach of the Blue Devils, he went 9-17 at head coach of Army.

Who gets that job after a 9-17 season?

Bob Knight was 11-13 in his last year as Army's coach before being hired at Indiana.

Jim Tressel was 14-20 after three seasons at Youngstown State. And, went 3-8 in 1995 after winning three national championships in four years.

Six years later he was in Columbus.

I see it at the high school level all the time.

A 3-7 football season is all because of the coach.

There are never other circumstances that contribute to that kind of season.

Obviously if that football coach was not the football coach, that 3-7 season surely would have been 8-2 and a trip to the playoffs.

A loss in the playoffs is because of a referee's flag.

The fact that the other team is better than yours means nothing.

We don't talk about the fouls that were missed or called in the first half. We only care about those in the final two minutes.

"My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:" - Proverbs 1:15

We need to help our kids get better and quit making excuses for them.

We all must get better.

We must drive them to weightlifting at 6 a.m., or the pool, band camp, science fair or an indoor track meet.

A friend of mine always says our blood must be B-positive when it comes to our youth.

God is telling us to refrain from evil.

Not only refrain, but to avoid the appearance of all evil.

Not happy with your coaches - talk to them.

Not happy with your playing time - talk to your coaches.

You think the team needs to be pushed more - talk to your coaches.

Parents, stay out of it.

You have a malcontent for a teammate - talk to that person.

Be a leader.

"He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise." - Proverbs 10:18-19

Words are powerful.

We must watch what we say and, just as important, how we say it.

The great Luther Vandross once said that people can sway him with the tone in their voice.

We all know what that means because, growing up, we heard the tone in the voice of our parents and now, as parents, we have heard that same tone come out of our mouths.

We have a saying in our gym that anything said must be done with the right heart.

That makes teenagers think about what they are about to say and how they will say it.

We all must get better.

"Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad." - Proverbs 12:25

We choose the words that come out of our mouths.

We choose to hit "send."

What we do impacts others and can do so positively or negatively.

Those are our choices.

We can wake up each day and choose our paths.

I choose every day to follow the path God has laid out for me.

I fall every day.

I fail every day.

But, that doesn't mean I don't wake up the next day and choose the opportunity to fulfill God's challenge.

I choose to try to be a positive role model with teenagers.

I fall every day.

I fail every day.

We lead with words, body language, attitude, mood and emotion.

Again, we can do so positively or negatively.

We choose.

"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." - Proverbs 15:13

Life is not easy.

Raising children is not easy.

Work is not easy.

Teaching and coaching is not easy.

But, that's what we choose.

And, we can choose to do so with "a cheerful countenance."

Our choice.

We choose every day if we will get better.

"I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponent or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform." - Ryne Sandberg

People are never perfect.

In fact, we're not really close.

All we can do is our best and sometimes our best is absolutely horrible.

But, does that mean we stop trying to be our best?

No.

Coaches and teachers will make mistakes.

Referees will make bad calls.

Players will miss free throws, layups and jumpers.

Wrestlers will get pinned because of a mistake.

Swimmers and track athletes will get disqualified because of false starts.

As in life, things are not always fair.

But, does that mean we stop trying to be our best?

Out of 792 high school football teams in Ohio, six are state champions.

That's a terrible ratio and means what for the 786 who are not state champs?

The next year they go out and do their best.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

We all must get better.

"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud." - Proverbs 16:18-19

We've seen people fall and will continue to see people fall.

Do we help them up?

We see those in the public eye fall all the time.

But, so do we.

We just fall differently and without as many eyes watching us.

I still go back to Avery Johnson and watched his humbleness after being fired by the Brooklyn Nets.

I watched him fall and watched his reaction.

That's God's grace.

If you ever want to talk to a humble man, please spend some time with Bill Mazeroski.

He is a treasure.

"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts." - Proverbs 21:2

Forty years ago, on Dec. 31, 1972, Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash taking relief supplies to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. The plane crashed because it was overloaded with supplies.

So, less than three months after Clemented became the 11th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits, and first Latino to reach that mark, he died at age 38.

A kind man with a giving heart.

"Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." - Proverbs 27:1

Bobby Richardson was a second baseman for the New York Yankees and still holds World Series records.

He and Mickey Mantle were life-long friends after meeting as members of the Yankees.

From an interview with the 700 Club, Richardson talked about his first encounter with Mantle.

"I signed right out of high school when I was 17 and I was given a four day trip to New York to work out with the Yankees. Took the train from Sumter to New York. Checked into the hotel in New York. Took a cab out to Yankee Stadium.

"I was told to put on my uniform and walk out onto the field and take some balls out at second base and to take some batting swings in the batting cage before the ball game. Well, I took the ground balls at second, but I was too embarrassed to step in front of anybody in the batting cage, and Mickey Mantle came up and put his arm around me and said, 'Come on kid, step in here and take some swings.'"

Richardson also talked to Mantle constantly about God.

"I can remember a dozen times when he and I spent time together. He came down to the University of South Carolina when I coached there and did an instructional film. Came to my home here in Sumter, South Carolina and gave a batting exhibition. And on all those occasions, Mickey and I talked about the things in life that really mattered, his relationship with Christ."

It is widely accepted that Richardson's words helped lead Mantle to Christ before died.

From his 1966 retirement ceremony, Richardson said:

"As I think of baseball and the memories I've had in the past ten and a-half years, I think of the opportunities. And in closing I can only say as Mickey Mantle has said, as Lou Gehrig has said, how lucky it has been for me to have been a Yankee. To God be the glory. Thank you very much."

Words are powerful.

"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered." - Proverbs 28:26

Happy New Year!

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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