Trying To Get That Medal


Steve Nauman

Today I’m going to use a story from my favorite old TV show, “The Andy Griffith Show” and contrast it with things I’ve seen!

The episode from the TV show was called “A Medal For Opie”. The setting is that the town of Mayberry is hosting a special kids day, filled with different athletic events and other fun activities. 

Opie, Sheriff Taylor’s son, signs up for the 50 yard dash and is convinced he will win a medal for it! (Even though he’s never run any kind of race in his life!) Andy, Opie’s father tells him he’s going to have to start training real hard if he wants to win. With a puzzled look on his face Opie comments: “you have to train to win yourself a medal?” His father explains that it takes a lot of physical exercise, training, time and commitment.

Well…. Opie spends a little bit of time doing some practice runs….. but he mostly just daydreams about winning….. and being presented with that medal!  He even begins to dream in his sleep that he won….. and goes on to win so many medals that they fill the entire front of his shirt, and they have to start pinning them on the back of his shirt!

It was quite obvious that the writers of the show were going to have Opie lose that race….. and he did! He finished last….. In those days leading up to the race he hadn’t given any thought to anything but being first and winning that medal….. He did not handle his loss well at all.

He slowly walked away from the rest of the days activities and walked home-kicking the ground, with his head held low….After the day’s events are done, Andy gets home and finds Opie slumped on the couch, pouting.

Andy breaks the ice by saying: “you tried real hard today Opie.”  
Opie says: “they don’t give you no medals for tryin.” 
Andy: “I know, I know they don’t. And it’s nice to win something. But it’s more important to know how NOT to win something.” 
Opie: (sarcastically) “I know how to do that real good! Andy: “No you don’t.”
Opie: “You mean there’s more things I coulda not won?” 
Andy: “I mean you could have been a nice loser, they call it sportsmanship.”

Andy continues trying to explain the importance of sportsmanship to his son, but Opie refuses to accept or listen to any advice his father has. Andy finally ends the scene by saying: “All right, I want you to know one thing….. I’m disappointed in you.”

A little later that day, Opie comes to his father and says: “Pa, I don’t want you to be disappointed in me.” (and the hug that follows implies that all will be well!) Then they calmly talk about the concept of winning and losing, because Opie is confused as to why he should be happy about losing! 

Andy explains: “We’re going to experience many different things in life. Some of those things we will win…that’s the easy part! But, some of those things we WILL lose…that’s the hard part. Learn how to show it’s not going to get you down and you’re going to try again! Do that, and you’ll be on the road to being a mature human being.”

My wife Ruth and I have had many outings watching the grandkids playing soccer. One thing I’ve always noticed at these games is the high level of sportsmanship from the beginning to the ending “skin-on-skin”! And if you look at the faces of the winning team or the losing team….. there really isn’t much difference…… good job coaches!

We also have a niece in Virginia who runs “Cross Country” on her school team. As we watch those pictures and videos of what looks like miles of running up and down hills, and then, at the last minute…..break into a whole new level of speed….. because the finish line is in view!

It makes me think of the verse…

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” 2 Timothy 4:7

Till Next Time…..

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Steve Nauman

These wonderful posts are written by my good friend Steve Nauman. He lives on a farm in northern Indiana with his wife, Ruth.

He owned and operated a machine shop until 2020. These stories come from the people and experiences that made lasting impressions upon him as he grew up in his father's general store in Upstate NY and later in his own business.