At the Change the Game conference at Boston University, Lou Bergholz led with the question: What is the greatest game that you have ever played? What made it great? He referenced the video below from Improv Everywhere:
What makes a game great? More importantly, does that question guide our coaching? Is it important to create a great experience for our players?
If we took this approach, how would it change the game? How would we as parents and coaches act before, during, and after the game? Would coaches stall? Would coaches only play their best players? Would parents scream at the officials? Would parents coach from the stands? What would happen if the goal was to make every game the greatest game ever?
When I was at UCLA, I coached and managed the UCLA Special Olympics program. We played in events that were poorly attended and generally lacked enthusiasm. Then, one tournament at L.A. Trade Tech, a bunch of our coaches showed up at the game. Only two or three of us could coach on the bench, so the rest sat in the stands. However, rather than sitting, they stood and cheered. They brought signs. They cheered both teams, not just our team. They changed the entire atmosphere.
Suddenly, there was a P.A. announcer. As the game got close toward the end, the P.A. announcer got into the game, giving players nicknames and cheering into the microphone. The whole gym transformed. It was such a unique, special, and awesome experience that we adopted the monicker of the Fun Police after the old Nike commercials featuring Kevin Garnett, Tim Hardaway, and others. We designed bright yellow t-shirts and added Fun Police to the Special Olympics. We made it our program mission to make every event great for our program and the other athletes. A little enthusiasm, some cheering, bright t-shirts, and a general excitement for every game, tournament, or meet. My last two years with the program when we adopted this attitude are many of the best experiences of my life, and a lot of it started with a couple undergraduate students who got out of bed on a Saturday, drove downtown, and cheered for no other reasons than to make a couple Special Olympics athletes feel like rock stars.
Of all the games that I have played and coached, that’s the greatest game ever.
By Brian McCormick, M.S.S., PES
Coach/Clinician, Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League