By Jay Crowell
A man who walked into a basketball gym on a quiet summer day, on the University of North Carolina campus. He was drawn into the gym, by the sound of shoes squeaking and the bouncing of a basketball. Anticipating seeing the Tar Heels basketball team scrimmaging, to his surprise, the man saw only one player, intensely working on his skills. The man said the player was pushing himself harder than any athlete he had ever seen. The player was sweating profusely, driving himself through drill after drill. The man was in awe of the player’s work ethic and strenuous workout he was forcing himself through. After watching the player workout for over an hour and a half, the man was extremely impressed with the player. He decided to find out who the player was. Once the player seemed to be finished with his workout, the man went and introduced himself to the dedicated athlete. They shook hands and the player gave his name, Michael Jordan. The man, taken aback, realized that he had just been watching one of the world’s greatest basketball player’s work-out. Astounded, the man asked Jordan, “Why would you work-out so hard in this hot gym during your vacation time, when you already are the best player to ever play the game?” Jordan quickly replied, “Because you can never be satisfied with where you are. You need to constantly be pushing yourself to get better, because there is always someone coming after you.”
Jordan’s great sacrifice and hard work earned him 5 NBA Most Valuable Player awards, 6 NBA Championship rings, countless other awards and titles, and the distinction of being the greatest to ever play the game of basketball.
As you enter the basketball season, I hope you will consider making a key focus for your season the goal of SACRIFICE. According to The American Heritage College Dictionary, sacrifice means “To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of great value.” It has been awesome this fall to see kids giving up free time to work on the basketball game and take out time to set goals and develop plans to reach those goals in their lives. My father used to always say, “Dare to be great.” Being excellent is difficult; it takes giving up certain things, plenty of work, and becoming vulnerable to failure.
Not long ago, a good high school basketball player came up to me and said he was frustrated with how he was playing. He said he had worked so hard during the summer and was not seeing the results. I knew his aspirations and his plan to reach those future goals. I asked him, “Are your goals posted where you can see them every day? Are you setting extra time during the season to work individually on your skills and your personal fitness level? Do you have an objective mentor, someone who is not emotionally invested or who determines your playing time that can help evaluate what you need to change. Are you committed to healthy eating, quality living and total focus during the season?” He had worked so hard in the off season; he had neglected carrying that focus into the basketball season. To reach your goals, it’s all about sacrifice.
Basketball season is right around the corner, what are you sacrificing to reach your goals? The first report card should be determined by now, what are you sacrificing to get the grades you want? We can ask these questions for every part of our lives when it comes to getting what we desire.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces an abundant harvest (benefits, rewards or results) for those who have been trained by it.” You couldn’t say it any better because when it comes down to reality, it’s all about sacrifice.