Patterico's Pontifications

9/16/2008

John Wooden Is A National Treasure And A Genius Of A Man

Filed under: General,Sports — WLS @ 4:10 pm



[Posted by WLS]

I highly recommend books written by John Wooden to anyone who has an interest but has never taken the opportunity to sit down and read the things that he has written.

This past weekend UCLA suffered one of its worst football losses in school history — 59-0 to BYU.

This UCLA team is led by a new head coach, former UCLA quarterback and Rose Bowl MVP, Rick Neuheisal.

The new staff pulled off a big upset of a mediocre Tennessee team to open the season, but UCLA was completely dismantled by a veteran and talented BYU team.

Yesterday Rick Neuheisal read to the press part of a note that he received on Sunday from John Wooden, who will be 98 years old next month:

“You (have) to have the self-control to forget about it,” Neuheisel read aloud. “Long before any championships were ever won at UCLA, I came to understand that losing is only temporary, and not all encompassing. You must simply study it, learn from it, and try hard not to lose the same way again.

“Then, you must have the self-control to forget about it.”

It seems simple enough, but when you fit that advice into the principles of life and living that Wooden has tried to teach for more than 60 years, the body of his life’s work is unrivaled in the 20th century IMO.

Wooden’s perspective is devoted to a study and understanding of those things we can control ourselves and not those things which we cannot control. In sports, his emphasis is that we can control our own effort and our own preparation, and nothing else. If, after the game is done, you can look in the mirror and know that you gave your maximum effort and you properly prepared yourself to compete, the outcome will usually be determined in your favor. When it’s not — sometimes the other player will be taller, faster, stronger — there is nothing to be gained in making excuses or placing blame, unless it is on oneself for not having given a total effort or being prepared.

Self-control, balance in life, and focus on what you can do. These lessons are so basic and easily absorbed, I used them in coaching a bunch of sixyear-olds playing T-ball. They got it.

— WLS

12 Responses to “John Wooden Is A National Treasure And A Genius Of A Man”

  1. The philosophy is unassailable. Good on all who subscribe to it.

    But I am sick to death of the deification of this guy. He cheated his ass off, utilizing a booster named Sam Gilbert, giving extra benefits to his players.

    He is certainly a most successful individual and, no doubt, lives the credo that is espoused in this thread far, far, better than I. But let’s please stop the virtual genuflecting to this man.

    Ed (f35a20)

  2. The thing that wow-ed me about John Wooden is the fact that he writes his wife a love letter on the 21st of each month. In it he tells her how much he loves her and misses her and can’t wait to see her again.

    Then he puts it one her pillow before he goes to bed at night.

    There must be over 200 of them in that stack by now.

    http://www.inspire21.com/site/stories/Wooden.html

    jim2 (7cf934)

  3. Shaking hands with John Wooden was one of the greatest moments in my life.

    JD (5f0e11)

  4. Wooden’s perspective

    It is unfortunate that politicians seem unable to apply these principles to their lives.

    Another Drew (1b62fd)

  5. Does he have a book about his philosophy?

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  6. Patricia, try this link:

    The Wooden Course

    He’s also written an autobiography, and has a book on what he called The Pyramid of Success.

    Steverino (db5760)

  7. Ed:
    Leaving aside any discussion of the truth of your comments, the fact is that John Wooden gets it (life, that is). He offers no excuses, accepts no excuses and expects from himself everything and more he ever asked from an athlete. If we “deify” him perhaps it is because so few others have been so unfailingly honest and direct.
    He also performed that miracle we all should seek to perform–leave those whom you have encountered better for the experience.

    Kyle (9d9e73)

  8. Hey, I was a big Wooden fan until I read jim2’s comment.

    That man is setting a bad example for the rest of us. I condemn him.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  9. If we “deify” him perhaps it is because so few others have been so unfailingly honest and direct.

    This, is precisely the logic that drives me to distraction. He cheated per the NCAA regulations. OK, sake of argument, those in the know, whom I respect and trust, say he did. Assuming extra benefits were proffered, somebody please explain to me what “unfailingly honest” means.

    Look, I grant that he has gotten far, far, more correct than most – and certainly myself. I simply object to the near-sainthood granted this man. Not God. Man.

    Ed (f35a20)

  10. Ed — you have no idea what you are talking about.

    The things that Gilbert did at the time were NOT violations of NCAA rules.

    Gilbert admitted the things he gave to players, and he gave those players those things only AFTER they were students at UCLA. He never “recruited” any players to UCLA, he simply offered his home and some basic necessities of life to players who came to UCLA without the financial and emotional support of friends and family they left behind on the east coast.

    Its Kentucky and North Carolina fans that have created the myth about Gilbert being responsible for Wooden’s success.

    wls (d2ce3b)

  11. Wooden’s perspective is devoted to a study and understanding of those things we can control ourselves and not those things which we cannot control. In sports, his emphasis is that we can control our own effort and our own preparation, and nothing else. If, after the game is done, you can look in the mirror and know that you gave your maximum effort and you properly prepared yourself to compete, the outcome will usually be determined in your favor. When it’s not — sometimes the other player will be taller, faster, stronger — there is nothing to be gained in making excuses or placing blame, unless it is on oneself for not having given a total effort or being prepared.

    It depends on your personality. After losing some cases I cared about, I would drink myself into a stupor. There is an element of existentialism — you did your best but are you good enough to be in the game in the first place?

    nk (189a81)

  12. I know former players of John Wooden and they have spoken highly of this man. Do they, or we for that matter, bow to him absolutely not. Do we respect him you bet we do and to the highest degree. John Wooden won’t be around for ever but his legend, insight, class and most of all his knowledge of success will.

    Perhaps the naysayers have overlooked his writings and have not or will they ever understand his Pyramid to Success.

    Gregg (a70a59)


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