Day 199: 4 Lessons From the Globetrotters


“Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.” Charles Spurgeon
Most of us have had some exposure to the charismatic Harlem Globetrotters.  Though they’re not from Harlem, this team of exceptional basketball players teaches us lessons about highly developing our talents and using them to reach out to people around the world.
Reading the Harlem Globetrotters Basketball timeline this morning taught me four important lessons about carrying out a long-lasting vision.
Lesson number one: Choose a name that says, “We’re global.”  A twenty-four year old genius named Abe Saperstein began the Harlem Globetrotters.  They were organized in 1926 under the sponsored name ofSavoy Big Five and in 1930 had been given the name Harlem New York Globetrotters.  Saperstein’s idea behind a traveling basketball team teaches us much about the whole idea of branding.  These team members were no more globetrotters than they were from New York, as their jerseys stated.  In fact, it wasn’t until 1968 that the Harlem Globetrotters actually played a game in Harlem, 41 years after they began playing as a team.  The name,Harlem Globetrotters, teaches us not only to dream, but to dream big, while taking on the world as the stage where dreams come to life.
Lesson number two: Make excellence the standard, because excellence breeds excellence.  Saperstein chose the best, regardless of public opinion in 1926.  Knowing these guys could compete globally, Saperstein drove them in his own Model T Ford to games.  He scheduled them to play night and day together.  Not only did they play exceptionally well, losing very few games, but they also developed a unique style that entertained the audience.  As we have seen throughout history, the best tend to draw the best.  Year after year, the Globetrotters continue to sign on new and outstanding players.
Lesson number three: Laugh and give the gift of laughter; it’s the best medicine.  The nicknames of some of the first core team of Globetrotters should say something about how humor was present from the beginning.  Some of the teammates were affectionately called Toots, Ham, Fat, Kid, and Runt.  I’d daresay that none of these players were actually fat or a runt, but these nicknames show the spirit of the team from its conception.  In 1941, a player nicknamed Goose joined the team and brought the comedy side to the Globetrotters.  When laughter becomes a selling point, winning and losing takes second place.
Lesson number four: Use the gifts and talents given you to bless others. In 1940, the Globetrotters used their talents to teach others in their basketball training camp.  The idea caught on, and most teams today lead training camps around the world.  More than setting this great example for others, the Harlem Globetrotters can be found providing monetary assistance to those in need.  The Globetrotters along with its owner Mannie Jackson have given generously to charity, education, and relief funds.  The owner and the team continue to take part in humanitarian projects to help those in need.
While it’s true that we each have our own lessons to learn in life, we can still strive to include these four lessons along with them.  It’s also true that not many of our dreams will reach the height of Saperstein’s Harlem Globetrotters, but perhaps his model will help us think carefully about the important things that make a dream worth pursuing.


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