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
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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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