By: Topher Scott
Like many others on Sunday afternoon, I scrolled through Twitter to read the news that Kobe Bryant and his daughter tragically died in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles. While I was scrolling through my phone…I was holding my five month old daughter.
Let’s just say I held on a little tighter.
Life is short. Having two little girls of our own, my wife and I were told as parents…The days are long but the months and years fly by in the blink of an eye. And yesterday that really hit home with a stark reminder that we really aren’t promised tomorrow. So I asked myself the question:
“What am I doing to squeeze every ounce out of life today?”
If you’ve read my blogs or listened to my podcast, you know how important the word perspective is to me. Having the ability to take a step back and look at things in a different way is one of the most powerful abilities we have. Many times that takes a required effort because it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day grind. But sometimes things happen that cause us to really examine the world around us in a different light…and yesterday was one of those days.
Last week I had a few days that felt a lot like a grind. Taking over this hockey director role has been invigorating, but it has also brought its challenges. While there’s been great collaboration and excitement, there has also been pushback. Competing hockey clubs trying to knock us down a peg. Parents bringing rumors to my attention about who I am and what I am trying to do. Some of it has caused me to really shake my head.
But before I tackle that, let’s get back to Kobe for a second.
Kobe was someone I always admired for the competitor that he was. I grew up in Chicago watching Michael Jordan and watching how his competitiveness lead to his greatness. Kobe was this generation’s MJ, and I loved watching his process and learning about the Mamba Mentality.
He is one of the very few people on Earth who came as close as possible to maximizing their God-Given potential because of his work ethic. The clip below demonstrates his willingness to learn and work to become a better player (1:00-2:04 is Kobe’s part):
That’s the Kobe that I will always remember. The tireless worker that took 1,000 shots per day to better a skill that will help his team win. Amazing.
Upon learning of his passing, I went down a rabbit hole on social media as so many people posted messages or videos about what Kobe meant to them. And I came to realize how big of an advocate he was for youth sports. The amount of time and effort he put into trying to change the culture for the next generation was incredible.
And in my scrolling I came across this tweet:
And so it’s come to this. Kids everywhere are retiring from sports. This is unacceptable. Parents, coaches and leagues need to change or get out of the way. Let kids find joy in sports before it’s too late. #DontRetireKid @AspenInstSports https://t.co/IBNjBEczOk
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 3, 2019
And this one.
A proud father himself, Kobe Bryant helped Project Play 2020 launch #DontRetireKid last summer. He shared his thoughts with @CariChampion on how coaches can do a better job when it comes to coaching youth. pic.twitter.com/6B3xAQ19Uy
— ESPN Citizenship (@ESPNCitizenship) January 26, 2020
And this one.
Kobe Bryant leaves behind a legacy of transforming youth sports. A father himself, he launched our #DontRetireKid campaign with @AspenInstSports and we will forever be grateful for his work. Our deepest condolences to the Bryant family. pic.twitter.com/DXCArix8qp
— The Aspen Institute (@AspenInstitute) January 26, 2020
Kobe is a champion for kids. His work across multiple platforms with his “Project Play” initiative and #DontRetireKid campaigns are major reminders of what youth sports is all about.
Coaches and Parents:
This is arguably the most competitive athlete of all time telling us to slow down. Let kids be kids. Grow passion first. Give back. Educate and teach.
Through these values first, competitiveness is grown. Take it from one of the greatest athletes who ever lived.
So many times we get stuck into thinking that competitiveness and fun are on two totally opposite ends of the spectrum. No. They are values that when brought together, grows passion. And when passion grows, development explodes.
Kobe’s battle against the Competitiveness-without-Fun youth sports culture will hopefully be one of his greatest legacies.
At this time of year for hockey coaches and parents, it’s easy to get sucked into that way of thinking. The structure put in place by hockey leadership right now all but guarantees it. But as you navigate these next couple months, I’ll leave you with this last clip from Kobe. It gave me perspective. It reminded me of my why.
Hopefully it can move the needle for you too.
Kobe Bryant, 2008: "Have a good time. Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged.
"You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile and just keep on rolling. pic.twitter.com/gy7iQnewAJ
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) January 26, 2020