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Sports & Society Column: Not the Outcome, but the Journey

By Chris Zielinski
On April 25, 2012

  • UConn forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis looks to shoot during the Huskies' 77-44 NCAA Tournament Second Round win over Vanderbilt at Gampel Pavilion. KEVIN SCHELLER The Daily Campus

Sooner or later, this time would come. Like the many before it, here would be one last opportunity to pull the bigger picture message out of some comparatively more obscure sporting event. Because after all, isn't that the point? Sports will always be there for us fans, delivering excitement and disappointment simultaneously, but that is not the true end goal of the matter. Rather, sports are meant to make us think. They make us question our values, what we stand for, what a true champion should look like. To some of you, I was on the right track the whole time, and you were right there beside me, while on the other hand, I admittedly recognize that another portion of you probably stopped reading as soon as the words "sports and society" were mentioned together. So regardless of what side you fell on, here we go one more time and try to find a bigger meaning than a simple win or loss.

In life, we are ultimately all measured on some sort of scale. Take academics for example; we witness the corresponding abundance of standardized tests ready to figure out where we stand. Not interested in scholastic examples? That's fine, as a soon to be graduated senior, I completely understand the mindset. Let's take one's career then, and quickly we witness the importance of revenue and profits, which more often than not, become the defining factor of who is a successful employee and who will soon be out the door. Rounding out the equation is the sports world, where we see the rapid ascension of the successful and all too quick forgetting of those who fail to perform.

What happens next during these failed situations is anyone's guess. Sometimes, the clichéd "second chance" finds its way to us, and with some luck, we reverse our fate and find success. Other times, second chances are hard to come by, and it's time for a change.

In either case, less importance should be placed on the outcome of the situation. On the other hand, more attention should be paid to the experience the journey provided us. Reflecting on success and failure respectively can help us understand how we arrived at our current location. More critically, during the latter situation, reflection on our experience can shed light on the changes needed to create success in the future.

Altogether, the emphasis on numbers, statistics and results is an important one, but shouldn't be something we define ourselves by. Alternatively, it is the experience, lessons, and relationships gained along the way that stand as an accurate determinant of whether or not we have been successful in life. Many things can be taken from us in life, but integrity and character are clear exceptions to the rule. Likewise, these two are qualities than can only come from genuine experience and unlike their numeric counterparts, don't come by accident.

In closing, I leave you with this thought: we all have goals in life, and big or small; they all carry respective importance. In similar fashion, many state that goals are best achieved by setting a series of small goals, or checkpoints, that we can use to gradually achieve our main goal. I always wondered why people would set smaller goals instead of just directly attempting their major one, but with four years of college in the books, I recognize my perspective is changed. It isn't so much that the smaller goals are important themselves, but rather the fact that they force us to enjoy and reflect upon the journey that reaching our ultimate is.

Best of luck to everyone in your endeavors, and make sure that for better or for worse, you enjoy it along the way.


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