The Size of the Game
At last Friday’s assembly, I mentioned that sport is one of the major co-curricular activities at Hereworth. It teaches our boys how to win and lose with grace; to learn about commitment, teamwork, perseverance and courage; to develop their skills; to learn about how to handle disappointment as well as success; to learn about fair play, sportsmanship and to abide by the decisions of the umpire or referee.
In conversations with Old Boys, they too have commented on their time playing for the School, their memories of incidents or successes in particular games, the fun times associated with the long journeys to away Prep fixtures, and of the honour and pride they felt in being able to represent Hereworth in this way. However, the aspect they seem to value most is that sport represented another avenue in the School that allowed them to form strong friendships with other boys, staff and parents which have endured long after leaving Hereworth.
There is a marvellous quote by the great US basketballer, Michael Jordan, who played for many years with the Chicago Bulls and was a long standing member of the US Olympic Basketball Team, the Dream Team: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”.
Whilst he may have uttered these words of wisdom used nowadays by coaching staff around the world, there is another very different story about Michael told by his mother, Deloris, when he was a young boy. She can remember him coming home from school in tears, running up to his bedroom and slamming the door shut. Like all mothers, she wanted to find out what was worrying her son and followed him up the stairs.
“What on earth is the matter?” she asked her young boy who was sobbing his heart out. “I didn’t make the team. They said I was too small”, he cried.
His mother looked at her broken-hearted son and knew whatever she said next could make all the difference between success and failure for her boy. After a moment’s reflection, she said, “Son, you can never be too small. It is not the size of the player in the game that matters. It is the size of the game in the player.” She quietly left the room.
The next morning, she was woken by her son Michael’s alarm clock and sleepily looked at the time – 4.30am! She heard him get out of bed and go outside into the yard where he began practising. From then on he practised every morning and every evening. Whatever the weather, he kept on practising. And as he practised, he repeated over and over to himself, “It’s not the size of the player in the game. It’s the size of the game in the player”.
And of course, you know the ending. Trials at his school came around again and he played so well and with such focus that he not only made the team that next year but every year after that. Whilst Michael may have initially been considered to be too small for the team, through his mother’s wisdom and his own fighting spirit, he went on to achieve unimaginable success in his chosen sport.
As our winter sports get fully underway, let us remember: “It’s not the size of the player in the game. It’s the size of the game in the player”.