"That's Not Fair!" Overcoming when life and sports aren't fair

A young woman moved from a major city into a rural small town. She had been one of the top players at her AAA school. She tries out for the team but only makes JV even though she is significantly better than any of the varsity players. When questioned, the coach tells her moving her up would pose a problem to the chemistry of his team. His players have been together since grade school and it would be too difficult to move someone down to JV.

A young man has three players on his team all dreaming of college scholarships. He has the talent, height and is already being scouted by D1 programs. His teammates are openly jealous. Whenever this young man is open these three somehow never manage to get him the ball.

Another young man is not naturally talented. He is only 5’5 but he loves the game of basketball and has been dreaming of playing high school varsity since he was four years old. He works out every day, is the first one to practice and the last to leave. He always gives 110%, encourages and is the hardest worker on the team with the best attitude. His taller teammates don’t try. They come to practice late, they meander on the court and never go for a loose ball. They have no passion and often criticize each other. But they play even when their team is getting blown out while the shorter young player sits the bench.

“That’s not fair” we say. The best player should make the team, teammates should not be jealous, the hardest worker should get a fair opportunity. But the sad reality is these stories are true.

Each one of us has a story of unfairness to tell. The key is how we overcome when life and others treat us unfairly.

Nine ways to Overcome when life and Sports aren’t Fair

1. Find a mentor.

We at NBC Camps can’t stress enough this important principle. Too many coaches, parents and athletes cry “unfair” and yet the same thing happens again and again because they didn’t seek objective counsel to really see where the problem lies. Self assessment is one of the most difficult tasks of any athlete. Most people blame. Blame leads to bigger problems. Find a wise person who can accurately and unemotionally determine what is going on.

2. Live above the line.

When unfair things happen to us, live above it. Speak with dignity, do not gossip or tear down, don’t be violent, quick tempered, bitter, easily offended. Instead, keep a sense of humor, be thankful, and don’t let the pain drag you into acting beneath yourself. Remember, all people who engage in violence believe similar things; it was their right to become violent and they had no other choice. (violence=rage, slander, mocking, hostility, threats, forcing people out, etc.)

3. It’s not personal.

When life is unfair, avoid thinking this is about you. Actually, it is about the hurt and dysfunction of the person or system. “Hurting people hurt others and are easily hurt.” (John Maxwell) Don’t make it personal.

4. Choose forgiveness.

Bitterness only injures you. One of the toughest dynamics happens when parents’ unresolved bitterness gets intermingled with the child’s pain. This becomes a very volatile situation. Work together to forgive and more importantly to find ways to ask others for forgiveness. Nothing helps heal anger and resentment towards others like noticing our own shortcomings and mistakes.

5. Carefully consider your options.

What can you change? What can you take responsibility for? If the external circumstances were different, would there be the change you want? For example, some athletes move teams to play for a different coach only to find themselves in a similar or even worse situation.

6. List all the options open to you.

Never settle for unfair treatment. Action is almost always required. With your mentor, come up with positive, win-win situations for you.

7. Conflict

If a confrontation is necessary, ALWAYS meet face-to-face and ALWAYS bring to the confrontation someone who is mature and under control. NEVER voice conflict via email or at inappropriate times (i.e. during or immediately following a game). This is one of the very worst things you can do.

8. Keep a ‘thankful’ journal.

The opposite of bitterness is gratitude. Bitter people are not creative, they are not physically healthy, and they ruin other relationships around them because bitterness cannot be contained toward one person. Bitterness spreads. Gratitude on the other hand allows us to have greater creativity and to problem solve. It opens doors and maintains dignity. Keep the journal by your bed and write down what you are thankful for each day. Memorize great quotes and verses like Psalm 103.

9. Make the difference as obvious as possible.

One of the reasons the civil rights movement in Alabama became so successful was the world saw the unfairness on their television sets and made an outcry. If you watch the footage now, the evil is clear, there Is no question what is right and what is wrong. Make your case so obvious people will notice. People love justice. The courage of the civil rights workers to face the unfair treatment without resorting to violence spoke louder than any speech. Their courage to voice their opinions with dignity and love changed and continues to change a nation. Remember what the great Martin Luther King said, “Hate can never drive out hate, only love can do that.”

This article was written by Jennifer Ferch. Jennifer received her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Gonzaga University. For questions or comments about this article, please email her at jennifer@nbccamps.com

Five ways to become mentally tough

1. Guard your thoughts.

The reason why it’s called mental toughness is because what you think determines how you act. If you want to become more mentally tough, you have to become tough about what you think. Certain thoughts should never be in your head. Replace weak thoughts like, “I can’t, I’m tired, I’m bored,” with strong thoughts.

An athlete training for basketball season didn’t like to run. The first time around the track for a conditioning run left her feeling exhausted. Her mentor asked what she was thinking as she ran around the track. “I hate running. This is awful. I want to stop.” She admitted. The next time around the track, her mentor asked her to change what she said in her head to, “I love to run, my body is strong, I feel great.” The second time around she ended with a huge smile. She said, “I had no idea how big a difference what I thought made on what I do and how I feel. Even though I didn’t think it would work, it did. I felt great .”

2. Do the hard things first.

Pick your weakest spot and work on it first every practice. Choose the weight lifting exercise you like least and do it right away. Pick the subject you need the most work in and always start with it. If you wait, chances are you won’t want to work on your weakness or you will not give it your best effort. When we choose the hard things in life we develop mental toughness and life becomes easier. When we always choose the easiest we get weaker.

3. Be specific.

If you want to work on upper body strength, write down the specific number of push-ups you will do. Counting backwards can help motivate you to finish. When working on math, pick a time limit and the number of problems you want to get finished in that time limit. For shooting, decide how many shots you will make in a row from different spots on the court, if you miss more than two shots in a row, sprint dribble down and back with the off-hand. Write down your goals and put them somewhere you can see them everyday.

4. Find someone to hold you accountable

Whether you are working on your game, your attitude, your self-esteem, or your faith in God, have someone hold you accountable in areas you are likely to give up and not work on. Choose someone you can work together with or someone who is a mentor who can help teach you how to develop mental toughness. In ball handling, compete against a good player for the highest score, whoever loses does one push up. Make a goal to encourage each other and pick someone who will motivate you to keep going.

5. Deal with problems.

When life is hard we want comfort not change, but those who have learned the secret of being mentally tough have learned comfort now can mean pain later, whereas a little pain now can yield a big reward in the future. We know we are not choosing the right way to handle our problems when we look for comfort in ignoring the problem, becoming bitter, using gossip or slander, or trying to escape. We need to learn to open up with a trusted parent or adult. We need to learn to talk to people not about them. We need to address problems with courage and kindness before becoming bitter and resentful. Every time we run away from our problems, more problems follow. The minute we decide to deal with problems we become more mentally tough and better able to handle problems in the future.

Mental toughness is the ability to persevere in pursuit of a goal, no matter how long it takes. It is backbone, daring, determination, doggedness, fortitude, gameness, guts, hardihood, intestinal fortitude, mettle, moxie, nerve, perseverance, pluck, resolution, spirit, spunk, tenacity, toughness.

Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes.” Chinese Proverb

Electric Power

Strength to lead, to influence, to change.

An athlete with electric power is profoundly influential, someone who transforms everyone around him or her. A person of deep integrity, power, and confidence. A person whose actions and opinions strongly influence the course of events.

Have you ever been around someone that seems to electrify the room? He walks in and his very personality, changes the entire dynamics for the better. Some people can bring negative energy onto a team, but the ones that inspire us, bring an energy which transforms.

Electric Power: How to influence for good

People are mesmerized by power. We admire strength, confidence, talent. We admire athletes who can dominate on the court. You are here this summer to train to become a better, more pow-erful leader. A leader is a person who makes those around him/her better. You can grow the skills needed to be a leader who changes his/her world for good. You don’t have to be perfect right now, you just need the discipline to develop the qualities of all great leaders.

Questions to consider:

  • Who is a leader you admire who uses his/her power to influence for good?
  • Name some qualities of a great leader.
  • What makes a bad leader?
  • What are the qualities of a person who makes others worse?
  • Name one skill you have for influencing others to be their best.
  • Name one skill you need to work on to be a more electric leader.

Afraid to Fail by Jay Crowell

Are you afraid to fail? I sure was. Hold on, I still struggle with the fear of failure everyday. I think most people are afraid to fail. As humans we do not like to look stupid or appear as if “we don’t know what we are doing.” In most cases, we play it safe in pursuit of looking cool or appearing confident or not being uncomfortable.

In life, however, you have to risk failing to be good at anything or reach certain goals and accomplishments. For example, if you want an A on a test, you know that you have to get 92% of the answers right, therefore you have to risk studying, investing your time, and giving up doing other things. Maybe you need to try out for a new team, a new job or a new position and you may feel embarrassed if you don’t make it. Or if you want to hit the game winning jump shot you have to risk missing and losing.

There is risk involved with everything. I always have struggled with risk and I have played it safe too many times. This past summer at Crowell’s Intensity Camp, I shared how my fear of failure limited me on the basketball court and in other areas of my life. My fear had crippled me from trying to reach out for new goals because in my mind I would think: “What would people think if I fail?” I remember playing in games where I would have an awesome first half and at half time I would be scared to go out for the second half because I might not play as good. What crazy thinking? But I allowed fear to overcome my mind. I was amazed how many of the campers and other coaches share my same fear. Maybe you struggle with fear as well.

A way to overcome fear lies in the willingness to fail. Several summers I went back to Spokane to visit my family and get some time on the lake. My brother-in-law, Shann, was excited to share with me his new summer love, wake boarding. He was all pumped to get me up on the water, but I was afraid I might not get up and look like a fool in front of my family and friends. I started to do the “Man, my knee is really bugging me, I don’t think I should…” garbage. I had to take a self-check and ask whether I was afraid to fail or if my knee really did hurt? Anyway, I figured it was fear talking, so I decided to give it a shot and allow myself to fail. I got a lot of water up my nose and I gave everyone in the boat a lot of laughs, but by the end of the weekend I got the hang of it – I couldn’t wait until the next summer!

When it comes to sports, you have to realize that you’re going to fail. Is there one quarterback in the history of the NFL to throw no interceptions? No. Or is there one NBA player who never turned the ball over or missed a shot? No. Everyone one fails at times. Yogi Berra, former New York Yankee great, said he loved baseball because you can strikeout seven out of ten times and still make the Hall of Fame. He allowed himself to fail in pursuit of his goals. Basketball is the same. If you can consistently make nine out of twenty shots in game play, you are an excellent shooter. That means you can miss eleven shots and still be considered great. That is a lot better than your algebra test, where can only miss one or two out of twenty problems to get an A.

I am still learning to deal with my fear, but by allowing myself to not be perfect I am overcoming that obstacle one opportunity at a time. I keep a quote on my desk that reads, “Courage is taking the first step, or a different path. It is the decision to place your dreams above your fears.” And that is my goal. My hope for you is to go after your goals and strive for excellence, but understand perfection is not attainable. You have to know that failure is inevitable, and you must be willing to fail if you want to reach your goals and dreams.

Feel free to drop me an email at Jay@nbccamps.com if you have any comments or triumphs over your fears.

Jay Crowell is the son of NBC Founder and President, Fred Crowell. Jay is a former point guard at the University of Georgia and now works as a loan officer for Bank of America.

Attitude Patterns Necessary for Success

Just what is it, the it that sets the highly successful apart from the rest? The answer is attitude. Attitude! Many years ago a corporation funded research on the super-performer. They discovered 14 attitude patterns necessary for success. You may recognize some qualities that you already possess, and will also see others which you may need to develop.

Rate yourself from 1-10, 10 being the highest on the following qualities. Have a key mentor rate you on the following as well.

Self-Esteem: You view yourself as someone of value. You understand your value as a person, which gives you a proper perspective on success.
Rating _________________

Responsibility: You accept responsibility for your choices and decisions. Therefore you don’t blame circumstances or other people when things go wrong.
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Optimism: You have a bright outlook on life. You expect each day to be a good, productive day, be the best in every situation.
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Goal Orientation: Your actions are motivated by and directed toward the goals you have set for yourself.
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Imaginativeness: You use your imagination to your benefit by visualizing success before it happens.
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Awareness: You are always on the alert for new opportunities that can help you to achieve your goals and work more effectively.
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Creativeness: You are always looking for new and better approaches, focusing on the solution rather than the problem.
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Communicativeness: You work well with other people and are able to get your message across clearly and effectively.
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Growth Orientation: You are filled with a strong desire to improve. You are not afraid of change, and you work hard to replace bad habits with new and better habits. Rating _________________

Positive Response to Pressure: Stressful situations are not a problem. You look forward to challenges that bring out your very best performance.
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Trust: You are open, honest, and cooperative in your relationships with people. Others can rely on you to be a good team player.
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Joyfulness: You have a positive, enthusiastic attitude about yourself, your work and your life that is contagious to those around you.
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Risk-Taking: You realize that all great achievement involves the risk of failure, but you conquer fear and take reasonable risks when necessary.
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Nowness: Realizing that today may be the only day you have, you work at eliminating procrastination. You live life to the fullest.
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Pick your top quality and thank God for giftedness in this area.

Pick your quality you need to work on. Ask God for help. Make an action plan and decide over the next 30 days to strengthen that area. Get someone to hold you accountable.