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Beating the Odds

The Ultimate Game

Duane Thomas, a Dallas Cowboys running back of long ago, went down in history for his take on the Super Bowl.

A breathless reporter once approached Thomas and asked him what it was like to be playing in the ultimate game. “If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?” Thomas replied.

At the time, Thomas‘ remark came off as a snide reply from a player who didn’t exactly love the media. But there is so much wisdom in it.

Thomas‘ words are a reminder that there is always another game. There are two ways to approach competition. One is to treat games like they are do-or-die. The other way — a more productive way — is to see each competition as a chance to grow and to learn.

This second approach removes the pressure and makes the competition more fun. And supposedly fun is what these games are all about. Hall of Fame baseball player Willie Stargell once talked about his approach to the game. “All I ever did was take the umpire’s advice,” he said. “After the national anthem, he said, ‘Play ball.’”

When you look at games, you can bet that the team having fun is the one that’s winning. It’s a chicken-and-egg question: Are you losing because you’re not having fun, or are you not having fun because you’re losing?

At any rate, it would be wise to take Thomas‘ words to heart. There is no ultimate game. There will always be others, and winners take them as a chance to grow and learn.


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