My former Dodgers’ teammate, David Ross, just won his second World Series Championship this past week. He and his band of brothers with the Chicago Cubs shocked the world and overcame the 108-year long curse in doing so.
How did this finally happen for the Cubs? Well, as a long-time sports executive of over 40 years told me, “It took an entire team/organizational effort, as well as a lot of luck.” I choose to agree with the former statement but disagree on the concept of luck. I believe that in all areas of life, our attitude and our commitment to excellence is what guides our destiny.
The Cubs were indeed a team of destiny this year. At the center of it all was my good buddy David Ross. “Rossy,” or “Grandpa Rossy,” as he is referred to by teammates and the Wrigleyville faithful, made a simple, yet profound, statement in the 2016 MLB World Series. Upon reaching 1st base in the early going of Game 1, already trailing by two runs, he turned to the Cleveland Indians 1st baseman (who seemed focused and a bit wound up) and casually stated, “Isn’t this fun?”
I found myself pondering this statement throughout the remainder of the World Series, especially when the Cubs were trailing three games to one and facing elimination for three straight games. Despite the undeniable pressure that the Cubs’ players, coaches, and front office were facing to re-write history, they always maintained this child-like love and enjoyment for the “game” of baseball.
How can we learn from the Cubs and this message of enjoying the game? As coaches of youth and amateur sports across America, we can positively impact countless lives through our leadership and guidance. Yes, we want to teach them to win. Yes, we want to teach them to focus. Yes, we want them to have an appreciation for hard work and excellence. But, always remember, if we want our young student-athletes to stay involved and committed to sports, they should have fun throughout the journey!
As I stated in a previous blog post, more of our children are walking away from sports than ever before in America. Coach, do your part to make the athletic arena an enjoyable part of their growth, and keep them in the game!
See Ken Rosenthal’s article on Cubs still having fun after Game 5 here.
Check out my guidebook for coaches and parents on developing more character in young aspiring athletes today. In my book, Cubs favorite “Rossy” shares a few stories from his youth that helped him become the player and man that he is today.
Thank you, Pete, for leading efforts to bring sports back into perspective in our country. No matter what the young athletes’ skill level, there are invaluable character lessons to be learned on the field of play–teamwork, communication, handling winning and losing with dignity and respect, and finding the sheer joy in competition. This starts with the coaches and adults leading the way as role models. Keep getting the message out there, Pete!