“The Score Takes Care of Itself”

My “summer read” aboard my boat, “Indigo Pacific” was called, “The Score Takes Care of Itself“. It’s something of a biography of the late Bill Walsh, the highly successful coach of the San Francisco 49er’s from 1979-1989. Part of it is autobiographical and part biographical with contributions from Bill’s son and colleagues. Clearly the title of the book attracted me as it’s what I believe and has been so much a part of my coaching philosophy. Those who have read my articles will know that. It’s the greatest mistake that athletes, coaches and spectators/fans make in my view. You can’t control outcomes and sometimes you will feel that you can’t even exert much influence but you can control and exert influence your performance and when that happens, well, “the score takes care of itself”.

It’s why I have a good chuckle around Olympic time every two years when I hear statements like, “We’re going for the gold.” or “It’s gold or nothing.” or “Anything but gold means failure.” All those statements are just so much male bovine excrement. When you hear them, give your head a shake, roll your eyes and hope that somewhere there’s a trusted confidante that can set the person in question straight. If not, the chances of attaining that gold medal are reduced and in some cases rendered impossible. If you’re one of those athletes, coaches or spectators, I hope you’re not offended by the above but I do hope you’ll cease and desist in doing the “gold thing”! But, back to “The Score Takes Care of Itself”.

If you’re not familiar with the late Mr. Walsh let me tell you that when he became the head coach of the NFL’s San Francisco 49er’s, the team was considered one of the most inept in all the league and within three seasons became Super Bowl Champions, an amazing transformation. And it was a wholesale transformation from the way the office staff answered the telephone to the intricate pass plays Bill himself devised. It didn’t hurt that in those years he had Hall of Fame players too (Joe Motana, Steve Young). He developed a philosophy that permeated the entire 49er organization.He called it his “Standard of Performance”, not his “Standare of Winning” you’ll notice.

Considered “Bill Walsh – Genius” he had his trials and tribulations to be sure. On the return flight following a devastating loss to the Dolphins of Miami, he seriously considered submitting his resignation but thankfully the duration of the flight allowed for time to heal the open wound the loss to the Dolphins had inflicted. You see as you read that he didn’t walk on water. He went through the “down”times that all coaches encoutner.

When I read that portion of the book it immediately took me back to my very first coaching assignment at the University of Waterloo. I ended up coaching the U of W varsity curling teams (m&w) from 1900-99. In my first year we went to the OUAA (Ontario University Athletic Association) finals for both men and women and although we did not win the provincial championship, I was left with the thought that, “”Heh, there’s nothing to this!” Boy, was I wrong!” Despite my best efforts, we didn’t get a sniff of returning to the playoffs in the ensuing seasons. By the fifth season it was getting to me. Like Bill Walsh, I felt that perhaps the programme might be better in someone else’s hands and on my next visit to the Athletic Dept. at U of W, I too was prepared to offer my resignation. The Athletic Director at the time was my former high school football coach and the varsity football coach for the Warriors. After a few minutes of “small talk”, I got to the point about the reason for my visit. I only spoke a few sentences when he interrupted, looked me in the eye and told me to get back to the Westmount Golf & Country Club (our training facility) that there were scholastic athletes waiting for me. It wasn’t about championships, it was about what they were learning and with that I thanked him and headed straight to Westmount. Thanks Wally!

I’ll not go on about “The Score Takes Care of  Itself” except to tell all coaches out there that it’s a great read and when you’re finished, you’ll be a better coach!

The Score Takes Care of Itself
ISBN 978-1-59184-266-8 (hc)
ISBN 978-1-59184-347-8(pbk)