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Love of the Game Clause

love-of-the-game-clauseIf cheaters never win, then it’s fair to say the New England Patriots didn’t deflate those footballs.


It’s difficult to know who to point the finger at in the hyper-sensitive media frenzy of today’s professional sports environment. Are these players and teams really bending the rules further than ever before, or has the reach of the headline-hungry media grown too long?

It’s been around since the days of Stick-um, and has survived through the Asterisk Era of steroid-infused baseball and pine tar … the attempts of gaining an edge in the ultra-competitive, high-stakes, big-money game that our professional sports world has become. And with the media influencing that world more and more, it is only natural to wonder if the same ideas and mindsets are trickling down into our amateur and youth sports.

So what is the state of sports today? Today’s sports quickly become the sports of tomorrow as young athletic phenoms make their way from high school to college and finally into the pros.

How do we tell that devil on our left shoulder no … and begin teaming with the angel on our right? Particularly when we glance across the playing field at an entire team of potential left-shoulder-listeners squaring up to defeat us at any cost.

Many young people are taught fairness at a very young age when it comes to amateur sports – the values we place on hard work and personal gratification through achievement are crucial.

Youngsters need to learn early that success and winning isn’t granted. I didn’t beat my dad in a game of one-on-one until I was in high school (much to my mother’s dismay). But that gave me the mental and physical tools I needed to eventually earn a Division I basketball scholarship.

And as someone who then went on to coach at the collegiate level, the honor and ethics of fair play and hard work instilled in me from a young age, carried over into my career. Being victorious through hard work and good ethics provides such a sense of satisfaction. Shouldn’t we all strive for that and make sure our young athletes believe the same? In doing so, we can help ensure that the next generation of professional athletes enter that world with a steady set of values.

Michael Jordan – arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time – included a clause in his contract with the Chicago Bulls. The “Love of the Game” Clause gave Jordan the ability to play basketball anytime he wanted. If there was a pickup game he wanted in on, he could play without any repercussions from management.

Let’s get back to playing for our love of the game. We all play to win, but in the end it’s the love and happiness that we remember. Do you recall how many games you won as a fifth-grade Pop Warner football player or do you laugh at the good times and hilarious home videos of your tiny arms and head stuffed into those first football pads and oversized helmet?

Sean Smiley


Basketball, Baseball