- 12.04.2019 VICTORIOUS
This has been an incredible year for Cleveland sports fans. After decades of heartbreaking losses and a seemingly endless stream of highlight reels, documentaries, and full-length feature films that have helped us (forced us?) to relive that heartbreak, the historical context against which the Cavaliers and Indians have achieved their success makes their accomplishments that much more inspiring and satisfying. At least to us fans…
The reality is that a majority of the players, coaches, staff, and management of the teams didn’t experience those heartbreaking losses and seminal moments. With but a few exceptions, they weren’t part of the historical context against which their accomplishments are being measured. For the most part, they didn’t grow up in Northeast Ohio, and in at least some cases, either aren’t old enough (or weren’t even alive) to remember some of the moments that Cleveland fans, and others around the country, showcase as THE defining moments of our Cleveland sports teams in the last half century.
If you’re a coach or parent of a young athlete in Northeast Ohio, this is something I’d encourage you to think about.
The story of the Cleveland Cavaliers coming back from being down 3-1 in the NBA Finals and winning the NBA title is the story of the 2015-2016 Cleveland Cavaliers.
The story of the Cleveland Indians winning their division and advancing to the team’s first World Series in nearly 20 years, despite losing three of its top five starting pitchers heading into the post season, is the story of the 2016 Cleveland Indians.
Focusing on the previous 50 years of failures, shortcomings, and heartbreaks may in some way diminish the effort and accomplishments of this year’s teams by creating the perception that somehow their success was delivered by fate, the “law of averages,” karma, because our teams were “due,” or any number of other factors outside of the control of the athletes and coaches who actually competed.
If we’re not careful, that emphasis could subtly send a message to our sons, daughters, and the athletes whom we coach, that their success is predetermined by some combination of factors outside of their control, most notably: the past.
Renowned sports psychologists and PCA National Advisory Board Members, Ken Ravizza and Charlie Maher, talk a lot about how to help athletes stay “in the moment” and how negativity and an inability to move on from mistakes can hold athletes back. At PCA we encourage young athletes to develop such tools as mistake rituals and positive self-talk to help them deal with adversity and focus on the next play.
We also teach kids the importance of learning from mistakes and focusing on making themselves better. However, while history can be a great teacher, when we can’t move on from it, it can also be a great distraction.
While usually well-intentioned, when we say things to our kids like, “Our school hasn’t beaten them since…” or, “No team has ever done…” or worse yet, “When I was playing we never had a chance to…” we’re pulling the past – a past that has nothing to do with their ability to perform – into the present. We’re introducing uncontrollable variables into an equation that should focus on what our kids can actually control: their own effort, their ability to learn and improve, and their ability to move on from mistakes and “stay in the moment.”
If we want to use the recent success of our professional sports teams in Cleveland to help motivate our kids, I say let’s forget about the last 50 years and focus on what these teams have accomplished in their own respective seasons. Each team has had to deal with its own set of unique circumstances and incredible adversity, and their commitment to their preparation, to staying in the moment, and to each other helped them stay “all in” to “rally together” and accomplish great things in their own right…all great lessons for all of us on how to accomplish great things – right now!