When The Game Stands Tall

The following is a sponsored guest post by Tony Dungy.


I recently saw an early screening of the new movie When The Game Stands Tall, which opens in theaters on August 22. It is inspired by the extraordinary true story of Coach Bob Ladouceur and De La Salle, the high school in California that won an amazing 151 games in a row.

I knew a little bit about the De La Salle program from knowing players who came to the NFL from there, but I didn’t realize everything that had gone into it and how impactful Coach Lad was in these young men’s lives. It was awesome to watch a coach who not only cared about winning games, but who cared even more about developing players. I thought it’s a great example to anyone who wants to go into coaching.

There aren’t a lot of coaches out there like Coach Lad. Most of us get caught up in our job—and that’s winning games. But Coach Lad learned some things through his life as a coach. In dealing with his family and his players, he learned life is much more important than football. His goal was to impact young men’s lives so they would be better people down the road. That’s why he was so impactful. And years later, these players would realize they had learned important things from their coach that benefited them long beyond their time on the football field.

People don’t realize that in football—and even in the National Football League—talent is not the most important thing on a team. It’s how you play together. How you handle adversity. And how well the team comes together. I had seven teams with the Indianapolis Colts. The team that won the Super Bowl was probably fifth or sixth in terms of talent. But that was the closest team, the team that did all the right things together. That’s what Coach Lad tried to get across to his players and that’s what coaching is all about. It’s not just ability that makes you a good team; it’s doing all of the little things.

I’ve coached a long time, so I’ve coached a lot of players. I have a son who is a college football player right now. I have teenage boys who want to be football players, so I saw this movie from a lot of different perspectives. I saw it from Coach Lad’s eyes. I saw it from the parents’ eyes. And I saw it from the players’ side, because I also played high school and college football. It touched me in a lot of ways but most of all because my message as a coach for 31 years was very similar to Coach Lad’s:

You want to excel in the game, but more importantly, you want to win at the game of life!


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