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Perspective: by Jerry Pyle
It was a pretty good week for Cobber sports. The Concordia football team won again to remain undefeated. The Cobber volleyball team went to 7-0 in the MIAC. The men's soccer team played league-leading Macalester to a draw. There were more losses and frustration for women's soccer. And the basketball teams opened practice, the men looking to return to the upper echelon of the MIAC, the women pondering their role as defending National Champions.
Amid the ongoing pursuit of championships or respectability, depending on the team, there was a banquet Saturday to induct six new members into the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame. It was an opportunity to remind ourselves of the proper perspective in which to hold sports as part of Concordia's broader educational mission.
While trying to guard against being self righteous, Concordia takes some justifiable pride in it's ability to look beyond wins and losses in its athletic programs. There exists, we hope, a sincere effort to keep in mind that the institution exists to educate whole persons, honorable STUDENT/athletes.
Concordia has obviously had scores of winning teams. But we also have our "losers" who have often worked just as hard as the "winners" but still struggled and "failed."
But did they? In our candid moments we all know that we have learned and grown the most when we were knocked down by life rather than exalted.
The challenge of continuing to cooperate with teammates unselfishly when things are going badly can be both wrenching and cathartic. The pressure to measure one's character by a box score can be verwhelming.
But the struggle to take pride in one's best efforts, despite not "measuring up" to the competition, is one we all, sooner or later, must face.
The Hall of Fame inductees, for all their achievements, have each faced their own limits at one time or another and seem to have handled them with grace and dignity. That is not untypical here.
The Concordia campus is filled each fall with high school athletic stars and valedictorians who have had to learn to cope with now being "just" one of a talented crowd. Learning to face and, perhaps, extend the limits of our talent with integrity is a major step on the road to maturity.
Concordia's attention to excellence in the academic arena and it's athletic endeavors are consistent. Losing is not a character failing. But failure to be a good steward and not fully develop the peculiar talents with which we have been blessed surely is.
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