Why Bridgeport? Winning IS Everything

By Jon Griffith on November 11, 2023 from Why Bridgeport? via

The famous quote, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” is often wrongly attributed to coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. I feel confident that I may have mistakenly given Coach Lombardi the credit in the past. The statement, in reality, dates back to the 1930s and UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell “Red” Sanders. No doubt, like any good coach, he used this quote and others like it in his locker room speeches to motivate his team.
The first public instance of its use was in a 1950 physical education workshop Sanders addressed. He told the attendees, “Men, I’ll be honest. Winning isn’t everything”, then after a long pause, “Men, it’s the only thing!” While Lombardi didn’t originate the phrase, he reportedly used it in his opening speech on the first day of Green Bay’s training camp in 1959. Lombardi later clarified what he intended to say; “Winning isn’t everything. The will to win is the only thing.”
Theodore Roosevelt also understood the importance of striving to reach your goals when he declared, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure...than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
These great men all believed in setting high goals and working hard to achieve them. They were convinced that exerting maximum effort toward achieving success provides a person tremendous personal benefits, win or lose. I swear by that concept. I based my coaching career and my life on that very idea. Who wants to be a winner? Followed by the critical question. How hard are you willing to work for it?
This not only applies to sports but also to most aspects of our lives. Do you want to be a winner in your relationships? In business? Perhaps your health? Achieving success in those or any area requires work and dedication. It is a simple enough idea. Hard work equals success. Yet one consequential factor is often overlooked. How do you define “success” or “winning.” In the sports world, that definition seems obvious, but is it?
Is Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes holding the Super Bowl MVP trophy or the Lombardi Trophy an example of winning?
Certainly. What about the young defensive tackle in Bridgeport Youth Football making his first sack? I would think so!
Would Usain Bolt parading around with a neck full of Olympic gold medals qualify as winning? Definitely. How about the slightly overweight, not very athletic, first-time Bridgeport High School athlete completing a 5K cross country race without walking for the first time? Without a doubt!
Barry Bonds hitting his 756th home run to pass the great Hank Aaron falls into the winning category, right? Surely. What about the Bridgeport Challenger League player rounding third, in their wheelchair, heading for home plate? Absolutely!
Once, my good friend addressed a group of athletes and coaches before a track & field competition at Wayne Jamison Field. At the end of his presentation, the long-time coach and official stated, “You are all winners!” At the time, his remark and deeply heartfelt sincerity were met with some good-natured teasing. In retrospect, he had hit upon something that too many people fail to recognize about themselves and others. The opportunity to be winners, in our unique way, is there for all of us if we choose.
While there may be some common aspirations, no two teams, groups, or individuals find themselves in precisely the same situation. Nor do they share an identical set of goals. Championships, trophies, and records are winning, but many other accomplishments qualify as winning. In sports and all facets of life, winning should be defined on a personal case-by-case basis.
Winning in our personal and professional lives can be even more abstract than it is in sports. Successes in our careers, relationships, or health are sometimes difficult to pinpoint. Their slow progression and ongoing nature require us to look for personal, periodic landmarks to gauge if we are winning. Clear, concise, and concrete markers of success are often hard to identify and can vary wildly from one person to another.
I encourage you to consider how you define winning in your life. I suggest the following. Identify your goals, develop a plan to work toward those goals, and periodically examine your progress while adjusting as needed to keep you on track toward reaching your goals. This process, the determined pursuit of your self-defined goals, is winning. Many of you already follow this prescription either consciously or unconsciously. It has been very beneficial to make a conscious effort to implement this strategy in my life.
True victory lies more in the quality of the attempt than in the outcome. Roosevelt, Lombardi, and Sanders all knew that. The pursuit of success, even if you sometimes fail, is vital. Those who strive for nothing accomplish nothing. A half-hearted effort is not much better and is not a success.
Bridgeport and its residents understand this idea. There is a pervasive community-wide expectation of success and putting in the hard work to achieve it. In sports and life, Bridgeport is filled with winners. We believe in ourselves, our abilities, and each other. Support and encouragement are heavily dispensed from every corner of our community. We aspire to do more and be more. For us, winning, in all of its forms, is everything!
That is “Why Bridgeport?”
Editor's Note: From Challenger League above, to a state championship level cross country program, to youth sports camps, effort and trying to obtain goals is one of the things that blogger Jon Griffith believes makes the City of Bridgeport a winning community. 

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