The Players On The Bench
It takes more than nine players to make a winning team. The starting nine may win a game, but it takes the whole team to win the championship-to go all the way. The team is really like an iceberg. You see the starting nine, but underneath it all is that big, wide, strong base-the rest of the team. This is the part of the team that builds the character of a lasting winner. The more dedicated the man on the bench, the harder he works, the more he pushes and strengthens the starting player-the higher he pushes this iceberg out of the water-the bigger it gets-the better the team. If he quits, doesn't give his all, or becomes complacent in his position, he erodes that strong base and erodes the character of the team. He contributes to the error in a tense, one run game, he is partly to blame for that mental lapse with two innings to play in the big rivalry, he undermines the total effort necessary for the team to come back from a four run deficit in a championship game. And yet this player on the bench must be there-watching, waiting, and hoping-sometimes agonizingly-for that chance to use his special skill to better the team effort-to make the base of that iceberg stronger-to help build the character of the team. Yes, agonizingly because he knows there is a chance he won't play because he may be the smallest man waiting to break open the game with a double or he may be the big man called in an instant to shut down the other teams best hitter. He may even be the man that's hurt, but working twice as hard to be physically fit in time to play in the playoffs. He may be the man on the bench who demonstrates to the fans that this team really has character from the bench to the basket. But even more important he may be the whole bench that the player looks to late in the game when he is hurting, out of breath, and burning inside for that spirit, that push, and that enthusiasm, and that love necessary to make the big play and win the game for the whole team.
When the game is over, when the season ends and all the fans and sports writers are talking about the top of the iceberg, the stars and heroes, the players will know that the real winner is the team, the whole iceberg, especially the base-the men on the bench who build the character to make the team a lasting winner.