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Is is that hard to emulate Lincoln or Edison?

December 14, 2009
By MIKE MATHISON, Sports editor

Abraham Lincoln was a failure and everybody knew it.

But, he managed to become President in 1860 and the consensus is he is the greatest president this nation has ever had.

Lincoln failed as a businessman, a farmer and in his first attempt to obtain political office.

After elected to the legislature, he failed when he sought the office of the speaker. He failed in his first attempt to go to Congress.

Lincoln failed when he sought appointment to the United States Land Office and when he ran for the Senate.

He also failed in his nomination for the vice-presidency in 1856.

But, as president, he oversaw the Civil War and made gut-wrenching decisions at the time on which commanders to replace and which commanders would stay in their saddles.

The Civil War began five weeks after his first inauguration address.

Four years later, General Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to General Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

Lincoln created the national banking system and freed the slaves.

Thomas Edison failed far more often than Lincoln.

He failed at more experiments that probably you and I have days on this earth.

Every time he failed he looked at it as a success.

He took that particular failure and channeled his energy into another direction.

His factory in New Jersey burned to the ground in 1914 and he watched it do so.

"There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew," it is reported Edison said the morning after the fire.

He was asked about his continued failure about making a light bulb and he said, "I have not failed (insert your number of times), I have found (same number) ways not to make a light bulb."

Instead, the man who was granted over 1,000 patents, eventually used the correct filament and invented the light bulb.

He also invented, among other things, the phonogragh and the motion picture camera.

Both men never quit.

They never allowed their circumstances to be bigger than themselves.

They always moved forward, regardless of what might have just happened.

They didn't think about themselves. They thought about others.

What would have happened if they quit?

We'll never know because they didn't?

We are about 20 percent into the basketball season and kids have already quit because of a perceived lack of playing time, whether it be in games or practice.



If you choose to be a part of a team then you choose to care more about your teammates than you do about yourself.

If you have whined about the lack of playing time in practice then you are not much of a team player. It means you care more about what you are doing than how the team is doing.

If you have whined about the lack of playing time in games, and there has been no more than three, then you are not much of a team player. You can sit and stew about not playing or you can do something about it. And, that starts in practice.

You want to be a starter - work harder in practice. And, that does not always mean you will break into the starting lineup. But, if you don't work hard in practice, it makes the decision to keep you out of the starting lineup really easy.

If a coach sees you go through the motions in practice, what makes the coach think you will do nothing more than that in a game?

If you amp up your intensity and hard work in a game, the coach wonders why you have not shown that enthusiasm in practice.

If you are quitting now because you are not getting your way (and there is no such thing when you are on a team), what happens in college when that college professor does not care about your excuses and hands you an F on that midterm which is one-third of your grade?

If you are quitting now because you are not getting your way, what happens when you are late for work that one day and the boss sends you home without pay because you are late?

Who you going to call and whine to then?

Mom or dad?

Their answer will be something along the lines of, "well, you have responsibilities. Get to work on time."

Bet you would have been to work on time if, that day when you came home from practice and said "I just quit the team" the response from your parents would have been "I don't think so" instead of "Ok, honey, whatever makes you feel better is fine with us."

Those of you who have already quit, remember that day when your child comes home sand says, "I just quit the team."

What will be your reaction then?

You hang it up once and the second time is a lot easier, not to mention the third, fourth and fifth times.

It will become as easy as hanging up your cell phone and you won't think twice about it.

The Brooke football program had 17 freshman in the fold four years ago.

When the Bruins left Wheeling Island Stadium last week as the West Virginia Class AAA state runners-up, seven were in pads.

I have no idea who those 10 are nor do I care because this scenario happens through the nation, but if any of those guys ever said "football isn't fun anymore" - I wonder if they would have had fun being on a 13-0 team that was No. 1 in the state a good part of the year and played in the state championship game?

Of course, you can say something similar about the Indian Creek football program.

I wonder how many of those kids who left the program for various reasons saw the four-game turnaround, going from 2-8 to 6-4, and the weekly big-game atmosphere and wished they would have stuck it out and worked harder?

Look at the Oak Glen football program.

The Golden Bears have gone from the bottom portion of the Class AA rankings to the top portion because kids have worked hard and bought into the system.

In last week's Class AAA title game between Brooke and South Charleston, the Bruins were flagged for "disconcerting signals."

Disconcerting signals?

I have covered high school football for a long time and have never seen that called, let alone in a state championship game.

Are you really going to throw a flag in a state championship game for that?

And, the last time you called that was ...?

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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