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Giving

MERRY CHRISTMAS! No matter your beliefs, or non-belief, or how you choose to observe the holiday, this time of the year is like no other. It’s a season of celebration, reflection, consideration, and unification. Memories are made, traditions are continued, and in many cases, new ones are formed. Families and friends gather, and for an

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

No matter your beliefs, or non-belief, or how you choose to observe the holiday, this time of the year is like no other. It’s a season of celebration, reflection, consideration, and unification. Memories are made, traditions are continued, and in many cases, new ones are formed. Families and friends gather, and for an all too brief period of time, the trials and tribulations of the everyday world are cast aside for a few magical moments.

It is a time when the oft-repeated phrase ‘tis better to give than to receive’ rings true in the hearts and actions of many. In keeping with that spirit, many sporting gifts will be found under the trees with hopes the recipients will find joy in their usage long after the wrapping paper has been discarded and the decorations are taken down.

Indeed it is a bit of utopia, but wouldn’t we all find this a better place if some of that ‘Christmas game plan’ be drawn up on the ‘whiteboards’ of our everyday lives?

Despite many comments from individuals who indicate they have read something I have written in this space over the years, I really have no knowledge of the demographics of the readership. My guess is that it entails more over-40s than the younger set and if that is the case and if you are a parent or grandparent of a young athlete, and if you may be in agreement with what follows next, take a moment and share some of its content with that special individual whose sports you enjoy following.

Sports can’t be collectively wrapped in a box, tied with a bow or hung from the boughs of the living room Christmas tree. But there can’t be any question that sports give much more to those who participate than it ever gets back. The gifts it provides include:

Inspiration and the opportunity to be involved in something bigger than yourself. It can replace “I can’t” with “I can” and ultimately “I did” when goals you once thought unachievable become a reality. It can boost self-confidence and build an inner-drive that will carry you on to greater life’s victories well beyond the playing field.

Perspiration, that sweaty moisture secreted by the sweat glands, is good for you. It replaces the all too often used phrase ‘don’t sweat it.’ It helps keep you in shape, pushes you towards the desired goal, and those liquid drops rolling from your forehead are the ultimate reminder that it is hard work, not wishing for it, that will achieve the desired goal.

Preparation, as so stated by Alexander Graham Bell, “before anything else, preparation is the key to success. Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.” In whatever your goal, follow a Plan A, but develop a Plan B to fall back on.

Communication, in the old sense of the word — not the Facebook texting & tweeting variety. Teamwork in sports is achieved best via communication of the personal kind, both verbal and non-verbal. Learning how to get along and understand the abilities and background of teammates and coaches.

I once heard a coach during a timeout with his players express his displeasure over his team’s lack of communication on the court. Exasperated, the coach said, “For God’s sake, pretend you are texting, but you’ve got to communicate with one another.”

For those who choose to give these gifts to sports, a very special one can be received in response.

Satisfaction will be achieved when the long hours dedicated to the above four mentioned gifts are unwrapped. Whether athletic competition comes in the form of an individual or team sport, knowing that one did all they could to dedicate themselves to establishing and accomplishing the desired goal will provide a true gift that can always be treasured.

Several days before St. Nick was scheduled to arrive, a tight-knit group of sports officials provided one of their own with a most significant gift that lifted the spirits of the recipient.

For fourteen years, Jon Hall was an active member of the Lycoming Chapter of basketball officials. Hall was dedicated to the avocation and kept himself in shape as an active long-distance runner. In October 2018, Hall’s sporting endeavors came to a cruel halt when he was sidelined with a stroke. For the past year, he has progressed through the pain-staking rehabilitative process on the long road to get back into the game of life.

While on the sidelines, Hall’s officiating comrades lifted his spirits with the presentation of a basketball official’s jersey, individually signed by the members of the local chapter.

“Their thoughtfulness in giving me that gift was very heartwarming for me,” Hall admitted. “Officiating is something I really miss. I now have a lot of time on my hands and spend some long hours recalling memories. For them to think of me in that way is very special, and that jersey brings back the good memories I was able to share with so many of them.”

Indeed, IT IS better to give than to receive. May we all find it in our hearts to brighten the lives of those around us, not just at Christmas, but all through the year. It would be a winning game plan for all!

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