Vince Lombardi’s famous saying “Winning isn’t the most important thing. It’s the only thing” is unfortunately the motto of too many athletes today. Although winning is important and sports are, and should be taken seriously, by far, winning isn’t the only thing. Putting everything you have and giving one hundred percent to the effort is also very important to competition. A team that puts everything they have into a game and comes out the losers, has a lot more to be proud of than a team who comes in first but only gave some effort. Over the years many teams have lost important games due to a few inches, one pitch or a strike of “bad luck” although these teams lost, they take it into the next game and gave one hundred and ten percent. Last month at the Erie Mayors Cup 10K and 5K race, competitors from around the tri-state area were in competition. Trophies and plaques were to be awarded to the first, second and third place runners.
A 10K is a 6.2 mile long race across the streets of downtown Erie in 85 degree heat and humidity. Runners who are running in the 10K have to show tremendous determination, stamina, speed and physical agility not to mention surviving in grueling temperatures and humidity. Great Olympic and Boston Marathon runners have dropped out of a 10K due to it’s intense strain. I was on hand to witness the race and saw many great athletes finish the race with great times. These are runners who put every day into running and run every race. Soon after these runners had crossed the finish line and been handed their trophies, the last runner in the race came through the finish line with his hands in the air and to thunderous applause. He was 87 years old, and had taken up the sport after his doctors told him he had a cholesterol problem when he was 67.
The runner in this story was not out to win the Mayor’s Cup 10K, he wasn’t out to set a record time or come in first. He came in dead last, but finished the race. If he would have listened to Vince Lombardi and say “Oh, I can’t win, their are professional runners from colleges and high schools competing against me!” he wouldn’t have completed his life long goal of running in a 10K. Better late than never. The most important thing is for all who participate is to have fun and do it with pride and determination, to set a goal and reach it. Two good sayings that contradict Vince Lomabardi state…”It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” and “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” Words to live by.