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The goal is to be better than the day before

January 1, 2012
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor , The Herald-Star

"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 18:4

I decided long ago that resolutions made are resolutions made to be broken.

My goal each day is to be better than the day before - whether it be as a husband, father, coach, boss, friend, employee, teacher, son, brother, uncle, cousin or man.

Each day I fail miserably in more than one of those categories.

I don't mean to fail.

I just do.

I'm not perfect. I am far from it.

I do my best and my best on many occasions is near not good enough.

In fact, it's not even close to good.

So, when we are not good, what do we do?

Get better the next day.

Choose the right attitude and go forward.

"I had dreams of catching the ball for the final out in the World Series and being mobbed by my teammates. Well, I guess all my dreams didn't come true." - Robin Yount

It started when some person, somewhere saw a kid having a hard time jumping rope and said, "Let's take the rope away so you can be successful."

I remember a kid in elementary school have no idea how to do a correct jumping jack.

We laughed at him when the teacher turned around and told us all to shut up.

He then proceeded to spend the entire recess teaching the kid how to do a jumping jack.

The kid failed a lot.

We kept our mouths shut and the teacher kept teaching.

The kid failed some more, but, eventually learned how to do a jumping jack.

Bethany Hamilton failed over and over again when she first got back on a surfboard after the shark attack.

She wiped out ... and wiped out ... and wiped out.

Yet, she kept getting back on the board until she finally stood up.

For the most part, kids are kids because we adults allow them to be that way.

Kids are far more resilient than we are and we give them credit for.

They can bounce back from and off a lot of things.

It's OK when kids fall.

It's OK when kids fail.

We just need to be there to pick them up, help dust them off and get them back at it.

"When I got traded to the California Angels, I really wasn't that excited about going to the Angels because it meant changing leagues and also a whole new set of teammates. But shortly after I got there I realized that it was one of the best things that ever happened to me." - Nolan Ryan

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.

What do you do when your child comes home with a D+ on a test?

Do you immediately go berate the sixth-grade math teacher like you did the basketball coach or the referees the night before?

Or, do you simply ask the child if the effort was worth the grade.

"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God." - Revelation 3:2

People are never perfect.

In fact, we're not really close.

No one in the NFL drafted Warren Moon and Ryan Leaf went No. 2.

Greg Oden went No. 1 in the 2007 NBA draft and Kevin Durant No. 2.

In the 1986 NBA draft, only two of the top 24 picks - No. 1 Brad Daugherty and No. 24 Arvidas Sabonis - played in an all-star game and made an all-NBA team.

That was the draft of Len Bias (No. 2), Chris Washburn (No. 3), William Bedford (No. 6) and Roy Tarpley (No. 7).

The 1983 NFL draft had Dan Marino going behind, among others, running backs Curt Warner and Michael Haddix, quarterbacks Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and Ken O'Brien and defensive players Tim Lewis, Mike Pitts and Leonard Smith.

If John Wooden was willing to kick Bill Walton off the UCLA basketball team for not following the team rules, and Walton was one of the five best collegiate players ever, then no athlete - on any level - is untouchable.

Walton learned, and did so rather quickly, that day that his talents in the court did not supersede his rank as a teammate and that the rules set forth by Wooden were for everybody, not just the "regular" player.

Once an athlete mentally reaches that level they are a terrible teammate and a negative influence on the program.

Negativity breeds negativity and that - like a poison - kills everything around a program.

"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

"The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team." - John Wooden

The coaches and teammates.

When winning is an option, where's the motivation to play hard?

Same answer.

That answer is not - "So I can get my points."

Coaches want to see how players react to adversity.

Coaches want to see how hard players play - and do so within the team framework - when the outcome has been decided.

Coaches want to see how players respond to getting benched.

Coaches want to see how hard those players practice the next time out.

Coaches want to see if their actions are motivated by selfishness or by doing something that will help their team win?

"To me, teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one. You become selfless." - Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski

Every player on every team has a role - whether it's the third swimmer in the 200 medley relay, the second leg of the 4x200 relay, the defensive specialist or the pinch runner in the bottom of the seventh inning.

How soon players accept and honor those roles, while working hard to get better, is the essence of a team.

"People have to understand what my game is. It's not all about numbers. There's a bigger picture here. I don't create off the dribble. I rely on my teammates; my role is to set screens and get rebounds." - Rebecca Lobo

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

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