The Thrill of Victory

teamAs the opening line of the old ABC Wild World of Sports goes, “The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat”. Really well written line but more importantly, it captured what competing in sports (and life) is about. It is far bigger than the Olympics, World Cup, professional or collegiate sports.

Winning and losing at any age, at any level, comes with ecstasy or agony. The photo shown above are “winners” — 6 team members who played and won a championship:

Mike Friedman

Bob Gerber

George Lovett

Steve Leshinki

Lonny Strum

Dan Thomas

When one achieves a goal, it’s a good time to celebrate. I am proud to say I am champion. Not a world champion, not among elite athletes, rather as a member of a team in an over 40 Men’s “Masters” basketball league at the Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, NJ. Regardless, the joy of victory is great.

Games in our league are played on Thursday nights, and are played on a full short court (roughly 75 feet), with 20 minutes halves. There are refs, scoreboard, fouls etc. There are 10 teams in our league and roughly 7 players per team. The regular season lasts 10 games followed by single elimination playoffs (all teams make playoffs). Players are drafted directionally in order of skill by captains, who are the league’s best 10 players. I’ll be 66 this fall and I am among the older players in the league and my skills, never great, have eroded (but are not all gone). Alas I am managing the slope of the decline, but the good news is that I was never very skilled and therefore, the slope of the decline is less precipitous.

However…..I still do two things somewhat well:

1. Shoot a mid range jumper with some accuracy (more accurate if unguarded)

2. Defend a larger player with my large body—girth I do have.

Beyond those two things, I have very limited talent. Yet I am happy contributing to our success.

What made our championship so joyful was that our team consisted of not just good players, but good men. All are players who understand team play. No bickering, always supportive and unselfish. In fact, our best player, Steve Leshinski, the tall guy in the team photo, is 6 foot 10, and played ball in college at Bucknell. He could have easily shot every time down the floor and made a significant percentage. He was our leading scorer and go-to player. But Steve is also an excellent passer and team player. He is a great defender and shot blocker as well. He’s a winner.

Winning a championship based on team effort is rewarding and is one of the things I miss in my consulting business. In my former life as an ad agency head, I enjoyed the competition of new business and the thrill of making an account winning presentation. I miss the show/game day in the ad business (but little else).

me and trophyThe spring league is now over and the “draft” for the new summer league lies ahead shortly. I’ll be on a new team am I will be drafted among the less talented players which is my lot in life at the moment. I hope to play with some of the same players, but unlikely all. Each season starts anew with no repeat teams.

But on Thursday June 21, 2018 I was a Champion. Felt great. Always does. Can’t get enough of the feeling.

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