Every Shot Counts
by Jim Stovall

Along with many Americans, I spent this past weekend exploring the outer limits of how much college basketball one person can really take in. With 65 teams going to the NCAA tournament and many conference championships, there was more college basketball than anyone can even imagine. As we listen to the commentary from the various network sportscasters, we all establish our favorites. A good announcer can really make the game come alive, and a bad one can really water down an otherwise exciting contest.

As often happens in hotly-contested basketball games, there were a number of times when victory and defeat seemed to be hanging in the balance and dependent upon the last shot. I heard any number of announcers emotionally intone, "It's all riding on this next shot. The game, the conference championship, and the whole season come down to this." While this seems to be true when a team is one point behind with 22 seconds to go, it really is not the case.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of appearing on a television show with the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. In that calm but confident demeanor that so many of us have come to respect, I remember him saying, "All baskets count for the same amount of points whether the shot is made in the first minute or the last minute of the game." I was struck by the profound impact of Coach Wooden's statement. That last-second shot that either signals victory or defeat is no more significant than the first shot of the game.

While this is true in a basketball game, it is even more true in our personal and professional lives. How often do we find ourselves rushing to meet a deadline with only hours or even a few minutes to spare? In that frantic last-minute commotion, we know that everything counts, and we can't waste any time. In reality, more times than not, if we had managed our time properly at the beginning of a task, the last few hours would not be critical because we would have already completed the task, had an opportunity to double check our work, and go on to the next opportunity before us.

Life will present us with enough crisis situations without our manufacturing more of them by mismanaging our time and resources. Whether it is in life or a basketball game, we should strive to have already won the contest long before it comes down to a last-second frantic shot.

Today's the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at JimStovall@aol.com.

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Copyright 2002 by Jim Stovall. All rights reserved.

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