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The Will To Win

“The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”


Having Athletes First, Winning Second as your objective does not mean that winning is unimportant. The immediate short-term objective of any contest is to win. Striving to win within the rules of the game should be the objective of every athlete and coach. To play sports without striving to win would be dishonest and diminish the joy of playing sports.

“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing,” said Vince Lombardi, or so we are told. Actually, Lombardi did not say it quite that way; that was a reporter’s mutation. What Lombardi really said was this: “Winning isn’t everything, but striving to win is.” Lombardi went on to clarify: “The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.”

Does it make sense that the emphasis on winning should not be on the winning itself but on the striving to win? It’s the pursuit of the victory, the dream of achieving the goal, more than the goal itself that yields the joy of sports. Many outstanding athletes candidly say that their best memories of sport are not the victories themselves but the months of preparation and anticipation and the self-revelation they received before and during the competition.

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