Values of the Game
Professional sports seems to offer the cynics among us plenty of reasons to shake their heads in disgust. Public tirades and fist-fights, exorbitant contracts and labor disputes, the myriad temptations of glamorous, high-profile lifestyles, ear-bitings and coach-chokings all cast something of a pall over national pastimes that once seemed theatres for heroism, teamwork and loyalty. Bill Bradley, in his celebrated book, Values of the Game, insists that those positive values are what make sports more than just mere entertainment, and that they are still alive and well. Ten essays in appreciation, Values of the Game focuses on such ideals as commitment, patience and sacrifice as core values that sports both demand and develop in anyone who wishes to succeed. The true value of sports, Bradley argues, is to be found not in the glare of the limelight or in the excitement of last-minute heroics but rather in the solitary hours spent practicing in the gym, or in the selflessness of a player whose priority is to make his or her team and teammates better. It is also about passion, sincerity and playing for the sheer love of the game. Far from being simply a forum for individual talent to showcase itself, sports require such determination and spirit that they cannot help but offer us important lessons about life. Therein lies the true import of Bradley's book: ultimately, sports is a metaphor for life. If an athletic team is to succeed, each of its members needs to be dedicated to the team and not merely to his or her own vision of personal achievement. The same holds true, Bradley argues, for a group of co-workers, a government, or a family. Written from the unique perspective of a man who is a former basketball great, a three-time senator, an educator, a scholar, a husband and a father, Values of the Game insists that the true value of the game is found in what it can teach us about becoming better citizens, better family members and, above all, better people.