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By Gerard Flanagan

“Patience is a virtue.”

This saying has been around for centuries and it hasn’t stuck around because it’s got a nice ring to it. It’s stuck through the years, decades and centuries because of the important message it provides people in so many situations. The saying tells us patience is a trait for which we should all strive. It tells us that patience is a positive trait and a desired trait. That’s what a virtue is; it’s “morally good behavior or character” and “a good and moral quality,” according to Merriam-Webster.

Throughout sports, there’s pressure. There’s pressure to win, pressure to perform well and pressure to not make a bad play, among other pressure faced. Arguably, the pressure to win is the greatest pressure faced in sports. Vince Lombardi once said, “if it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, why do they keep score?” In sports, it all comes down to winning. A team is typically measured based on its win-loss record; if a team is winning, the team is viewed as having a successful season and will generally be viewed in a positive light.

The opposite, however, happens if a team is losing. If a team is losing, questions will most likely float around about what’s causing the team to lose. Explanations will be given and fixes will be proposed. If the losing happens for an extended period of time, coaches, players and top level executives might be shown the door. The chatter and looming threat someone might lose their job only add to the pressure.

So, all in all, winning is kind of a big deal in sports and when the wins become scarce, the pressure to fix things can get amped up from coaches, players, outsiders and even fans. No team or fan base wants to endure a losing season. 

It’s understandable a team wants to win and win now; sometimes and it’s normal for a fan base to expect wins now. After all, winning is good and losing is bad. However, after a team endures a string of losing seasons, it takes time to build that team. Teams have to draft talented players and develop them in the first few years of their career. Any players on the roster also need time to gel and play together as a cohesive, effective unit. 

Pressure in sports come from all kinds of directions. The pressure will produce stress and the stress it produces can test one’s patience. Patience requires waiting and when the pressure is on to find success and maintain it, patience can seem like the last thing someone would want to practice. Patience can take a back seat and haste can take the front seat. People rush to get the solution, not realizing that time is needed to find and execute that solution.

Sports presents stressful situations, difficult circumstances and pressure for immediate results; during games and matches, split second decisions have to be made in pressure-packed situations; sometimes, a decision can mean the difference between a win and loss, a postseason berth and being denied one, success and failure.  Patience isn’t easily acquired, nor is it easy to practice.

Time changes everything and patience (as well as persistence) pays off. Rome wasn’t built in one day. Waiting and waiting isn’t an easy thing to do; patience is something that is acquired. It’s a trait that is cultivated over time. Patience shouldn’t just be practiced in good times. Patience must also be practiced in bad times, when things aren’t going the way you’d like them to. You must allow a situation enough time to change and to evolve.

Patience can bring about great reward if one sticks to it. Giving a situation enough time to change allows everyone involved to enjoy all the benefits possible and allows everyone to reach their true potential.

Patience. It’s a virtue and it’s something we should all strive for.