by Dan Balow
Next week is March and that means basketball “March Madness” around the country. From high school to college, teams will compete in tournaments where excitement is at its peak.
One of my hobbies is to work as the official scorer for the Wheaton College (Illinois) men’s and women’s home basketball games. I started doing this back in the late 70’s, took some time away from it when our kids were young and then started up again in earnest about eight years ago.
I sit at the scorer table at center court, in a striped referee shirt and mark down in a book what happens. If I am wrong, someone gets mad. Players check in with me to enter the game. Theoretically, whatever is in the book is true.
The most interesting aspect of this work is that I need to be completely objective, show no emotion, be as helpful to the referees and coaches as possible and basically work so that no one in the gym even knows I am there. A good game is where all the information is correct and no one gets mad.
Anyone close to me or who works with me, knows that I eventually make sports analogies to just about everything, from relationships to business. (Even if the comparisons are a stretch!) So, I figured, what better time to compare basketball to book publishing than on the eve of March Madness?
Here are some things that are true in basketball and writing books:
- You can’t play all home games – Your family and friends love you…the reader 500 miles away? Not so much.
- Timing is everything – it is not what you do, but when you do it.
- Keep your head about you when all around you are losing theirs – emotion can either ruin you or drive you. Tense moments need people with cool-heads who respond to crisis.Decide now.
- Sometimes bad things happen – no one to blame, it just happened. You slip on some sweat on the floor and lose the ball. Looking for blame is pointless. A printing press breaks down and your book is late. Relax.
- People make mistakes – referees, editors, proofreaders, sales people…agents.
- If you don’t play by the rules, don’t be surprised when someone gets mad – treat people badly or do something against the grain? This is why the referee has a whistle and literary contracts have cancellation clauses.
- Adversity is an opportunity – You can tell a lot about a person by how they respond to adversity. It not only builds your character but also gives a tangible update to everyone on the current status of yours.
- Nothing happens exactly as planned – Detailed game plans are good until the opening tip…then it’s about responding to adversity. (See #7)
- Sometimes the other team gets hot – You do everything right, but the other player heaves in a 50 foot shot while falling into the stands. Great books sometimes don’t sell as much as popular books. Get over it. (See #2)
Good coaches throughout all levels and types of sport know there are life lessons to be learned by them and taught to athletes. If you speak with anyone involved in sports, their memories are fuzzy on game details, but crystal clear of the people they have known and lessons learned, like my incomplete list above.
Anything to add?