For Student-Athletes By Former Student-Athlete Part 3: The Art of Competition

by Gregory L. Gamble II

It’s the last home game of my senior season. It’s the last time I’ll play on the University at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena wood floor as a Bull and we are on the brink of a championship, something the school had never done before in the Mid-American Conference.

Unfortunately for us, the MAC player of the year showed up to play and we went into half time of this game down 13 points. Our head coach was giving us a halftime locker room speech and all I could hear was my own voice on top of white noise. “I’m not losing today.” Then I blurted out, “Coach, I got em’!”

For a split second, I thought about how many excuses I could use to validate my decision in choosing not to guard him. I was the point guard and I needed to have energy on the offensive end to keep things moving. He was bigger than me by about 5 inches and he was stronger than me. I hadn’t come out of the game yet and had a feeling that I wouldn’t be anytime soon.

I didn’t know if the MAC player of the year was a winner or a loser, but I knew I wouldn’t be subject to him making that decision on that day. Immediately following those thoughts, I made a decision to rid myself of the thought of defeat and that’s when a solution came to me, “Don’t even let him touch the ball, no excuses.”

The game resumed and we went on to defeat our opponent in overtime and the MAC player of the year was withheld from scoring a single point the rest of the game. What is the power that an excuse possesses? An excuse provides the door to make an escape from the weight of responsibility. When you replace your obligation with an excuse, you give yourself the opportunity to find a reason why you “can’t” and you alleviate yourself from the pressure of being right or wrong.

The word ‘compete’ has a very simple and direct definition; to strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. But there is an art to this because you will fall short making an attempt to establish superiority.

The difference between a winner and loser is their mindset. No matter the sport, no matter the circumstance in life, winners don’t lose. Winners either win or they (L)earn. There are no losses to winners. Losers accept defeat and repeat the actions that got them there.

What is the Art of Competition? The Art of Competition is finding the solution that equates to victory despite favorable or unfavorable conditions. The Art of Competition exist when your will and your desire to win is greater than your desire to accept defeat. Excuses literally do not exists to a true competitor and winners don’t follow paths, they blaze trails.

At The Point Columnist and Former Student Athlete Gregory L. Gamble II