Music and the Spoken Word: The life lessons we learn from sports

 Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Nov. 3. 

Most sports fans love to follow the scores and stats, the wins and losses. But if sports were only about numbers and rankings, they probably wouldn’t fascinate us the way they do. No, behind the scores and jerseys are people we come to care about and inspirational stories that teach us important life lessons.

We see some athletes who are clearly gifted and seem to have advantages from the start. We see others who aren’t the strongest or fastest but who excel because of their will, tenacity and hard work. And we always love stories of athletes who are resilient, who fail but then bounce back and who overcome difficulties. We marvel at their inner strength and mental focus.

Among sports’ life lessons are that perseverance, hard work and commitment win the day, no matter the final score. In the end, our most satisfying victories come on the days when the odds were against us but we simply refused to give up until the final whistle blew.

A young man gives his heart and all his effort to the goal of winning a state football championship but loses in the playoffs. A gifted tennis player dreams of playing professionally but gets cut from her college team. A promising runner gets injured the day before an important race. All these (and many more) are learning that sometimes the final score doesn’t accurately reflect life’s most meaningful, most satisfying victories.

In the game of life, we may not be competing in a sports arena with thousands of spectators, but we do compete every day. In every heart, idleness, pride and pessimism face off against determination, selflessness and hope. Will we keep going even when the scoreboard may show we’re falling behind?

Whether or not we have a favorite team to cheer for, we can find inspiring lessons in the examples of dedicated athletes who never stop competing, no matter the odds. We learn that people progress and achieve — win, if you will — at their own pace. We learn that the most important play is not the most recent one but the one that’s coming up. And we learn that in the end, our effort and perseverance are more important than the final score.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM,, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the, and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at