In 1912 Jim Brown won the decathlon event in the Olympic Games. A decathlon is an event that comprises 10 track and field events under the guise of one Olympic heading.

When Brown won the event in 1912 and earned the gold medal for the United States, he earned the nickname of the World’s Greatest Athlete. Brown richly deserved the honor, acclaim, and praise that went with winning the gold medal for his country. He truly was the World’s Greatest Athlete at that time.

There have been many great athletes since Brown’s day, and many have won gold medals for their respective countries. Athletes can be great at their craft and provide some wonderful entertainment for all of us to view. But what is truly the greatest thing about athletics?

The greatest things about athletics are the invaluable lessons that an athlete can learn about how to live life. A small percentage of student-athletes get to go on to the college ranks and pursue their sport on the intercollegiate level.

With that being the case, most high school athletes only have a short period of time to invest in their respective sports on a competitive basis, but the hope is that the student-athlete will live many years past their playing days.

The goal of athletics in high school cannot be solely to perfect one’s craft. The goal of athletics must be to take the ball, club, field, bat or racket and learn how to live life itself to the most productive end.

If we win the championship at the end of the season but lose out on the life lessons that we should teach to the young men and young women that play on the team, we have had a bad season.

Every coach wants to win championships. It has been my honor and my privilege to win five state titles as LCA’s men’s basketball coach. But the greatest titles are not the ones marked by metal trophies. The great wins are the ones where a former player recalls the lesson from his playing days of perseverance during difficult hours, teamwork, respect for others, respect for authority, and how to prioritize their life. The great victories are won long after the player puts the ball down.

The goal of athletics is not simply victories in the won-loss column. The greatest thing about athletics is the ability to learn from a coach who uses the tools of the craft to teach life lessons.

Mark Davis is the lower school principal of Loganville Christian Academy. He can be reached at markd@lcalions.com.

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