What Sports Teaches About Life

Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your two ears” – Laird Hamilton.

Sports Facts

According to the World Sports Encyclopedia, there are over 8,000 different kinds of sports or sporting games. Out of that number, the top ten sports are ranked in order:

  1. Soccer
  2. Cricket
  3. Basketball
  4. Field Hockey
  5. Tennis
  6. Volleyball
  7. Table Tennis
  8. Baseball
  9. American Football/Rugby
  10. Golf

In my opinion, cricket and baseball are surprising entries. I still cannot wrap my mind around the concept of wickets and innings. This summer, we have seen a resurgence of sports activities and competitions. 


At the moment, the NBA playoffs are entering their critical stage as we move closer to the finals. For the first time in years, neither Lebron James nor Steph Curry will feature in an NBA finals game. Their dominance is unquestioned, but a new crop of talent like Trae Young and Devin Booker is shaking this up. Are we watching the changing of the guard in terms of the next NBA dynasty team? 


In soccer, two continental competitions, Copa America and Euro 2020 are heating up as well. Countries in South America and Europe, boasting some of the top soccer talents in the world like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, are vying for bragging rights as soccer kings of their respective countries. 


The Olympic trials are also taking place across the globe as athletes compete at home to represent their country at the world’s biggest sports stage in Tokyo later this month. I look forward to watching rare sports like archery and curling, which teach focus, mental clarity, and patience.  The first recorded Olympic Games were held in 776 B.C. in the Greek city Ellis. The first marathon ran in the 1896 Olympics was a 25-mile route retracing the steps of a Greek soldier who ran from Marathon to Athens to bring news of victory over the great Persian army. Later in 1924, the marathon was standardized to its current 26.2-mile distance. Needless to say, the Olympics is the dream of every athlete. 

Learning From Sports

After a forced pause last summer due to COVID-19, sports is back. And its importance cannot be overstated. When our daughter Esther got engaged in sports, first soccer, and now gymnastics, I noticed the seamless nature that sports induced growth in her. There was an improvement in her coordination, her ability to play with others on the playground at the park, how she expressed herself verbally, and her willingness to show us what she learned. Sports are entertaining and I believe there are numerous life lessons that we can learn within each sport. When Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters, his win, after all the injuries and off the course issues made him a write-off to many, reminded us that there is a comeback in all of us if we choose to never give up. His inspired performance is a memory I will always remember. 

This month, we will put sports under a magnifying glass to discover valuable applications we can draw for successful daily living. 

1. What Is Your Diet? (Today’s Post)

2. Does Practice (Really) Make Perfect? (July 8)

3.What is the Loneliest Number in the World? (July 15)

4. Do You Have Staying Power? (July 22)

5. Is It Really About You or Me? (July 29)

Can sports teach us about life? If the answer is yes, which I believe it is, what are some of these lessons? Let’s begin with our diet. 

Easy to Say, Hard to Do

I am finding it hard to watch what I eat. After being in lock down last summer, it seems every weekend there is a gathering I attend where eating is one of the featured events. When I heard the money Lebron James and Tom Brady spend on diet and fitness alone, I learned the price that must be paid to keep a level of physical fitness that sustains peak performance for years. How does this translate into life? I believe we need a steady mental diet of truth in the information age we are living in. We can go from source to source, accumulating information, but without a system to decipher what is true and false, we can end up mentally obese from deception instead of remaining fit from constant ingestion of truth. Our minds thrive on truth. But the truth, like healthy nutritional food, is not always readily available. Just like your body needs healthy foods to perform well each day, your mind under performs when the truth is not its staple food. Margaret Lee Runbeck said, “There is no power more formidable than the truth.” Truth is a sine qua non. Without its pursuit, we are left with opinions and views that sound and feel good but lack the substance that equates to a high-quality life. 

Seek and Find

When I ran my first and only marathon in November 2019, nutrition played a significant role in completing the grueling 26.2 miles. While training is crucial to long-distance running, the central piece of being a successful long-distance runner is a proper diet. Diet matters when maintaining the stamina to run long distances. Athletes who set out to perform at a high level for an extended time pay closer attention to their diet. Similarly, the further you determine to go in life, the more valuable and instrumental truth becomes. How far do you plan to go in life? Your decision on distance will dictate the level of focus, effort, and determination in terms of your diet – what you consume mentally. The ubiquity of lies should never etch our pursuit for truth.

Final Thought: Truth must be sought. There is a required effort to know the truth. Its pursuit grows out of a desire to not only know the truth but live by the truth. When you consider your constellation of information sources, do they supply or suppress the truth? In the words of the great British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, “Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is.” Feed your mind the truth it needs.

Keep on keeping on!





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