Sports Column

Smith: What sports have taught me in life


Sports have always been a major part of my life. Growing up, I was either playing them, watching them, or talking about them. Not much has changed into adulthood. My playing days may be over (except for getting buckets in the New Hope summer league), but I now have the honor of coaching and writing about the game that I love. Because of my experience with sports, I will occasionally get asked the following question: “What have sports taught you about life?” So here’s the short version.

In sports, and in life, we should never get too high, and never get too low.

I’m one of the most even-keeled people you’ll probably ever meet, and I truly believe my experience with sports is one of the reasons why. How many times do you see a team start a game hot only to end up losing in the end? How many times have you seen a team start the season winning all their games, but they fail to win the last one? Conversely, how many times have you seen a team continue fighting to make a big comeback in a game, or a team that barely makes the playoffs go on a deep run by getting hot at the right time?  This is why we love March Madness, the NFL Playoffs, the MLB playoffs, among others. The underdogs. The Cinderella stories. The David vs. Goliath moments. Just like life in general, sports rarely follow the script.

In life, we’re going to have good days and bad days. We’re going to have good seasons and bad seasons. As many of you know all too well, bad news can come out of nowhere. Bad news never has good timing (shout-out to John Mayer for that lyric). In the blink of an eye, things can drastically change in our world. While that’s hard to accept at times, there’s also a good side of this equation. When things aren’t going so well, those moments don’t define you. Difficult seasons are often temporary, and it’s up to us to keep fighting, keep working hard, and keep pushing forward.

This is the formula I try to live by in sports and in life: In good times, stay humble. In bad times, stay faithful.

Ultimately, it’s just a game. Win or lose, life goes on. All trophies, accolades, and records eventually collect dust or they’re forgotten about. But the memories made, lessons learned, and relationships built are what’s most important. My favorite thing about coaching: Through all the ups and downs of a season, we’re in it together. The struggles, the frustrations, the joy and triumphs. And the same lesson remains: Don’t get too high or too low. Focus on the next play. Focus on the here and now. Stay humble. Stay hungry. And keep moving forward.

My favorite musician Jon Foreman once said: “Music has taught me about life, and life has taught me how to sing.” I feel the same way about sports. Each and every day, I will compete. I will improve. I will work hard. And whether it works out or not, I’ll wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.

Tyler Smith covers the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Hoosiers for IndySportsLegends and is a frequent contributor to the Journal Review. Smith is also the head girls basketball coach at Crawfordsville High School.


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