John Wooden, easily the greatest basketball coach that ever lived — or coach, period, for that matter — was much more than a hardwood personality. If you fired up your search engine and looked for “John Wooden quotes,” you’d get an endless supply of famous quotes about Wooden’s philosophy, which apply off the court as much as they do on. Take a gander for yourself:
“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.”
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
So it is no surprise that a war-torn country such as Uganda is seeking Wooden’s word to help repair broken people and assimilate them as happy, functional citizens. From the L.A. Times:
One of the cornerstones to breaking down international barriers, and repairing war-torn psyches, has been the motivational teachings of John R. Wooden.
Omli was a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota when he first visited Uganda and met soccer coach Kyambadde Stone, who runs a program for inner-city youth in Kampala.
The two collaborated with the idea that sports would be an effective mechanism to help assimilate thousands of men traumatized from a brutal civil conflict in Northern Uganda from 1986 to 2006. An estimated 1.8 million people were displaced.
You really should read the whole thing. The Ugandan men have a hell of a story and a bunch of heartwarming ideas for reparation of those whose psyche has been damaged incredibly.
We all know sports — be it playing them, or watching professionals play them — acts as a bandage in American society. Every Sunday, hundreds of millions of Americans manage to not lambaste one another to gather around a T.V. set — be it a 60-inch HDTV or a 12-inch T.V. that can only be found in 1993 — to watch football. Socioeconomic status be damned.
The same can be applied to other forms of sports. On the basketball court, no one cares what your ethnicity is or what God you believe in. If you can knock down open J’s, you’re a part of the group.
We all know that no one has used the platform of sports to such a philanthropic advantage as much as Wooden did. Wooden embodied why sports are so important in American society.
So it comes to no surprise that Uganda, what some may consider a “broken country” came to seek Wooden’s words for advice.
And that’s because there is no personality who better fits the purpose — and essence — of sports than John Wooden.