Playing the Game
Playing the Game
Wed Sep 25 23:20:00 EDT 2013 | by Kevin Keonhane
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Baseball became my favorite thing in the entire world and I had a passion for sports as a whole, starting around 7 or 8 years-old.  Sports were also very much about the ability to have fun and work both individually and as a team.  I not only loved playing the game, but I began to realize my love for the community of sports (specifically baseball).  The game was more about the social, physical, and emotional investment and less about “being the best” or winning.  My philosophy and mindset on sports was and is quite different from most every other athlete my age.  I have felt for quite some time now that I enjoy “playing sports” and not “winning games”.  The way I see it, there’s too little to gain from a victory or statistical accomplishments.  I love statistics and root for my teams to win, but that’s not my priority.  But probably since Little League, I have believed wholeheartedly that you cannot determine the winners and losers of an athletic event from a box score or highlights of key plays.  The story of my sports career is about “playing the game” and not “playing to win the game”.

            One of the best representations of my view of sport happened in my final year playing Little League.  I played centerfield and was a good fielder and base runner, but never could hit anywhere close to average.  I may be mistaken but I am fairly certain that I only had one extra-base hit in my Little League career.  I was a scrawny, 13-year old who stood somewhere around 4’6” and 65 lbs.  My value couldn’t be appreciated by those who don’t watch the game and look at statistics and play that contributes to the team winning.  But if you looked in the dugout and asked the coaches, I was irreplaceable on our roster.  Did I make plays that impacted the outcome of a game? Yes, I did. At the end of our season, our coach handed out awards (like the Silver Sluggers, Gold Gloves, and MVP); I did not receive one.  But what I did receive was more valuable and meaningful to me than any of those awards.

            The coach gave me a “C” in honor of being the team’s captain.  The honor of being recognized as the team’s leader means more than any other achievement for me.  In my opinion, a home run has value, but leadership is invaluable.  This was the most important moment of my sports career.  My belief that what is personally acquired through the play and experience of sport had been reaffirmed by someone who I looked up to.  I wanted my experience on the field to form who I was on and OFF of it.  The field for me was a place of growth and transformation, not competition and physical achievement.  This “C” encouraged me that my impact did end after the final out, it continued off the field for those who knew me.

            According to Dictionary.com, a captain is: “a person who is at the head or in authority over others; chief; leader”.  Clearly the role which a captain fulfills does not only pertain to athletics.  Being recognized as someone who has the mentality and capability to lead by example and through word and action is the most valuable aspect of my sports career.  I was able to continue to take on this role of captaincy on other teams through high school and now I can do so in Rec-IM participation.  But, I have more importantly been able to extend my “captaincy” beyond sports; thanks to the confidence in leading that I built up on the athletic field.  My experience in leadership has led me to be involved in things such as: being a youth leader, leading bible studies, helping coach youth athletics, and most recently becoming an apartment coordinator.

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