Sports achievements can be appreciated by all

July 11, 2011|Bill Kohler

First things first, this is not a sports column, it’s a life column. I’ve written plenty of both and I’m compelled to share what I took out of two hugely impressive moments from the sports world this weekend.

Some folks think competitive sports aren’t worth following.

Some people consider athletics to be a waste of time.

Some members of school boards around the Tri-State area want to cut sports to save money.

Some of us need to open our eyes.

Last weekend contained two classic moments that could teach us all a thing or three — about life, sports, fortitude, commitment, the list goes on.

On Saturday, Derek Jeter, a baseball player for his whole adult life, reached a significant milestone in his professional career — 3,000 hits.

Jeter reached the mark with flair — hitting a home run to tie the game. He later banged out a couple more hits to help his team — the New York Yankees — win the game.

While his on-field efforts have always been impressive — .300 hitter, solid fielder, five World Series rings — it’s how Jeter conducts himself away from the plate that impresses me the most.

Here’s a man who is adored by millions (even Yankee haters like me), has a gorgeous girlfriend, more money than he’ll ever spend in 10 lifetimes and championship rings.

But Jeter was humble after the 3,000th hit. He hugged his teammates and waved to the fans, but he looked as if he wanted to just go into the dugout and get on with the game.

In post-game interviews, he was modest and humble about the accomplishment. He mostly seemed relieved it was over.

What really impressed me is how he didn’t hog the spotlight or make it all about him, when for most of the media and the fans, it was all about him. To Jeter, it was about getting the individual aspect out of the way and helping his team win. For him, it’s always been that way.

Selflessness and dedication in a professional athlete: I can learn from that.

On Sunday, the United States women’s soccer team overcame amazing odds to win a quarterfinal game at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The team scored the tying goal in the final few seconds while playing down a player for more than an hour.

The Americans eventually won this instant classic on penalty kicks and advanced to Wednesday’s semifinals.

Those who know soccer realized how amazing that win was, how hard it is to beat a talented and fast team like Brazil at even strength, let alone down a player.

It doesn’t take a soccer fan, however, to marvel at the grit and determination showed by those women in the face of tremendous odds.

It doesn’t take a sports person to realize that you finish the job, you play till the whistle or horn sounds, you work until your shift is over, that you do your best at all times.

I loved that my daughter is so into the games and was excited about the result and how it happened.

She, I, you, we all can learn something from Jeter and the American women.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at or at 301-791-7281.

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