By Ken Reed
The coronavirus is certainly testing us all. In times like this, it’s natural to look for guidance in dealing with challenges. Wise guidance can come from all areas of life, including the world of sports.
I recently came across some wisdom from two sports figures that I think is applicable to the situation we’re in. These men come from different sports and different eras. Neither is known as great philosophers but their philosophies on how to deal with uncontrollable events and situations in life can help us all deal with the pandemic.
The first sports figure I’m referring to is Urban Meyer, longtime successful college football coach for Utah, Florida and Ohio State. I’ve never been a Meyer fan but I love one of the things he stressed with his players through the years. It’s a simple but powerful equation: E + R = O. Event plus response equals outcome.
“We don’t control the events in life, and we don’t directly control the outcomes,” says Meyer. “But we always have control over how we choose to respond.”
Meyer says the R factor determines the quality of one’s life. Meyer’s goal was to make his players’ R stronger than any E they might encounter during a season.
The second sports figure I want to mention is former Major League Baseball pitcher Don Carman, who primarily pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies. Carman, who’s now a sports psychologist, has a similar life and sports philosophy as Meyer.
“A big part of my philosophy is I don’t get to write the script,” says Carman. “Whatever it is, I just get to respond.”
The philosophies of Meyer and Carman are similar to that of famed psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who once said:
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
Meyer says an important step between the E (event) and R (response) needs to be a pause (P). It’s important to pause and not just react emotionally to an event or situation. A pause gives you time to accept the event or situation and then ask: Now what? What’s important now? What does this situation require of me?
This allows you some time to reflect and for your response to be driven by your values. So the equation can be modified to: E + P + R = O (event + pause + response = outcome).
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response,” said Frankl.
The coronavirus pandemic is a reality. It’s the E in the equation. Now we get to respond (R). How we all respond will impact the ultimate outcome of this pandemic.
I’ll end this discourse with the philosophy of another sports figure, legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith: “Play hard, play smart, play together.” That was Smith’s mission statement for each of his teams throughout his hall-of-fame career.
It applies to all of us. In cases like this, we’re all on the same team. If we’re all smart about what we do during this pandemic, give our best effort to find a way through it and remember that we’re all in this together, we can come out the other side stronger than ever.
And that’s an outcome we can all strive for.
— Ken Reed is sports policy director for League of Fans, a sports reform project. He is the author of The Sports Reformers, Ego vs. Soul in Sports, and How We Can Save Sports.
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans, why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks, and the fact the vast majority of players are for more protective netting in stadiums.
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Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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