By Ken Reed
The Huffington Post
February 7, 2014
“Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” – John Maxwell
As we sit here in early February, a big chunk of the country is stuck in the ice age. The Super Bowl is over and many sports fans are in mourning due to the end of the football season (especially those fans in Denver).
But spring is on the way. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks open their training camps this weekend — earlier than normal due to their regular season opening series in Australia.
So, it’s time for all of us to snap out of this end-of-football, cold-weather funk we’re in. And who better to look to for guidance when in need of an attitude adjustment than Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub himself?
Ernie Banks is a Hall-of-Fame baseball player who’s also known for making a difference through his approach to life. In the spirit of the recently deceased Pete Seeger, Banks has made the world a better place and has been kind while doing it.
One of his favorite sayings was, “Digging for gold is more important than the gold itself.”
Banks understood the principle that who you are, and who you become, in pursuit of a goal –the process — is more important than the goal itself. So, for his 19-year career with the mostly-woeful Cubs, he took responsibility for his attitude and showed up every day with a grateful disposition and a smile.
He then went out on the field and played hard and fair, no matter where his team stood in the standings or what the score of the game was. He knew sports — and life — was about attitude and effort, the only two things we can control.
His famous “Let’s play two!” quote has been associated with him since July 1969.
“It was about 105 degrees in Chicago,” Banks told the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Dean. “And that’s a time when everybody gets tired. I came into the clubhouse and everybody was sitting around and I said, ‘Beautiful day. Let’s play two!’ And everybody looked at me like I was crazy. There were a couple of writers around and they wrote that and it stayed with me.”
Banks’ positive attitude was infectious. He learned as a young man that he could make everyone around him smile, and a lot more comfortable, by how he managed his attitude. He believed in taking responsibility for his own attitude — creating his own weather — which made the weather for everyone around him nicer as well.
Banks focused his energy on his circle of influence instead of his areas of worry, which he realized he had no control over.
Ernie Banks admirably faced racial prejudice and the challenge of spending his baseball career playing for the Chicago Cubs, a team that was in last place for much of his time with the club.
His life is an excellent example of keeping a good attitude and doing one’s best despite the obstacles one must face in life.
Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Ernie Banks has definitely lived an impactful life.
It’s something we can all do if we follow Banks’ lead: smile, give your best effort, and take on each day with a positive attitude.
“Let’s play two!” Yes, let’s.
Ken Reed is Sports Policy Director for League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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