Win at all Cost

The subjects of this column over the years have dealt with the issue of winning and different methods of winning on several occasions. As I have often said, the reason we play the game is to win. And I have often said that winning is not the most important thing – but learning the lessons of the game are more important. We all play to win, but life is bigger than the end result of the game. A story came across one of my social media feeds this week that fully supports what I have always said: that is winning is not the most important aspect of sports.

The story involved a high school football team near St. Louis and the lengths that people will go to for a win. The star running back on this football team was ejected in the last game of the season, requiring him to sit out the next game played. Since it was the last game of the season, the punishment was to be applied in the next game played, which was the first game of the next season.

The player in question did not play in the team’s Jamboree to open the season, which later the coach thought that was sufficient enough to satisfy the punishment. The next thing that happened made that comment by the coach a little confusing. The player in question wore number 24, and no player with that number played in the first game. But a player wearing the number 4 and with a different name rushed for over a hundred yards in the game and the team won.

Number 24 came back the second week of the season and also rushed for over a hundred yards and the team went on to win its first seven games of the season. Number 4 was never heard from again after the first game.

Eventually the ruse was uncovered, and it was determined that number 24 and number 4 were the same player. It was also found that the coach knew he was ineligible for the first game and gave him a different jersey number and a different name and played him, which was against the rules of his punishment. Needless to say, the coach and the entire staff was fired, and the team had to forfeit all seven wins to start the season.

All he had to do was sit out the first game, and all would have been as it was supposed to be. Instead the coach lost his job and the team lost seven wins. Do you wonder how the rest of the team felt? Is this an example of winning at all cost, and was the effort to cheat worth it in the long run? What are the lessons learned by trying to win at all cost?

Also, this will stay with this coach and the player the rest of their lives and through whatever situation they face from now on. It will be a stain they will never be able to scrub off no matter how hard they try. We all play the game to win, but I still will attest that winning is not the most important thing. Competing and giving it your best is the biggest lesson we learn, and cheating the game is not giving it your best.

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