Learning life lessons from the basketball court

artwork of cowboy riding market

On Tuesday, I spent five dollars to attend the local high school girls’ basketball game. It was the best five dollars I spent this week. Not because we won, but because of what I saw

The team we played against beat us earlier in the season. Our team had also just suffered an embarrassing loss. This game was the district final. The winner goes to the state, the loser is done.

Emotions and nerves were at their peak. The crowd, especially the student section, was louder than ever. Our home team fell behind by double digits and were visibly upset. It didn’t look good. Not only were the girls playing a good team, but the referees were against them as well

I would like to know what our coach said to them at halftime because our girls came out in the second half and looked like a completely different team. Their composure was better and their defense was much better. This allowed them to fight back and reduce the lead of other teams.

The game stalled at the end of the fourth quarter. With seconds remaining, our team missed a layup and we went into extra time.

They put 4 minutes on the clock for extra time. I didn’t like our chances back then just because the opposing team was scoring points in bursts. Our daughter’s defense held them there, and with only seconds on the clock, it was even.

Everyone knew who was going to fire the last shot for our team, and it was closely watched. She passed the ball to a teammate who shot from the three-point line. The ball spun across the net as the buzzer sounded and the backboard lit up. Our girls are going to State!

Our girls have worked hard. There was a ton of effort put in by both teams. This other team tested our daughter’s resolve and they found a solution. I was grateful that my daughter was there to witness it. Twice this season, his team found themselves in a similar situation. My daughter and another teammate were the only ones who didn’t give up. Even the coach gave up. We lost those games when we shouldn’t have. This high school game reinforced what I told him all winter “winners run with winners and they do winning things together”.

I noticed the reaction of the younger girls, my daughter’s age. They were excited, jumping up and down, screaming. I then thought the bar was set. They know what the wait is now. There is a winning culture in this gym. There is a program in place to ensure this continues.

I noticed how the parents interacted with their children after the game. Some were warm and supportive. Some were freezing, ignoring their daughters. Warren Buffet said in an interview that the most important thing he received from his parents was unconditional love.

The games are streamed on YouTube and the recording is posted there. My daughter came home and immediately turned on the replay. The announcer was telling how one of the games our girls played during the game was shown to our coach just before the game. During a time out, he drew the play on his notepad for the girls to see and they came out and played it. They’ve never seen this play before, so they’ve never practiced it. They were coachable, they trusted him, they trusted each other, and they trusted each other. They trusted the process.

More than a game

There’s a lot here besides a game. Hard work, dedication, all those hours of training in the gym. I told my daughter that championships are won off season. I will include the fundamentals here. If our girls were better on the fundamentals, they could have avoided a few turnovers and made that lay-up at the end of the fourth quarter.

There was support from friends and family which created a positive environment.

The most important thing was the effort. The determination that led to the solution to win this match. This mindset is what creates culture and sets expectations for the future.

What are we going to teach our children? This is the most important thing we will ever do. I’ve told my daughter since she was little that the biggest word in the cowboy dictionary is “try”, the biggest meaning the most important. The amount of effort we put into doing something is so important. A world champion weightlifter said exertion is a force multiplier. If you put in 100% effort in training at the gym and give maximum effort in a competition, you will win that competition.

What kind of effort, or attempt, are we making for our children? Things get tough and we give up. We say it is impossible. Or that some force, like the packer, the weather, or the markets, is against us. If you give up once, it’s easier to give up again, and then we have a habit. We have created a culture of abandonment. Or are we showing determination? Do we open our minds and find a way to win, to get the outcome we want?

What about this enabling environment? Do we tell our children that the only way to get into farming is through the grave, the womb, or the altar? Are we telling them to get a degree and a good job with benefits? You know how to work for the man. Do we tell them it’s impossible? Or do we tell them it’s a labor of love and they’ll never get paid for their time? The list continues. It is not a favorable environment.

I’m real, I get it. It is difficult and our children must know it. But do you remember the fundamentals part earlier and making that layup? Are we practicing the fundamentals of our business daily? How many squares of cattle do you practice daily? When was the last time you calculated the intrinsic value of your breeding herd? How about implementing the basics of excellent breeding? I was on the phone this week with several backgrounders and discussed/compared the cost of winnings. There was a wide range, and through our discussions, I believe that breeding is the main reason for this spread.

A look at the markets

This week, the local spot supply for corn reached $7.30 and diesel was up 70 cents Monday through Thursday. Do you go ahead and make money, or give up or take a loss? What are you going to teach your child?

I was curious what the $7.++ corn would do to the COG and the livestock price relationships. If fat does not rise, we will see feedlot markets reverse if feedlots are to remain profitable. Very few people will know what to do if this happens. This is where selling/buying marketing skills will shine. Many will say silver is undervalued and suggest hanging on to it. Why would you want to hang on to silver with the rate of inflation we’re seeing? If people suggest this and say it’s too hard to make money, it’s because they don’t understand how to use that part of the inventory triangle.

Currently, feeder steers are becoming overvalued relative to fat with the rising price of corn. Feeder heifers are the best buyout.

It’s a typical spring market. Anything that is perceived as a weed puller is overvalued, and the gain value is high to the point where it is perceived to be too big to be a weed calf. From there, the VOG is more and more in a hurry. That’s why we need to know what our cattle weight is and what our COG is, and keep it competitive.

I watched a female sale this week that was outside the drought zone. I was shocked at the prices paid there considering the quality. The second and third calvings sold tall, bred females that held up pretty well down to the broken-mouth cows. There’s been a huge drop in value there. The heifers bred didn’t seem to have many admirers among the crowd of buyers there.

Cow/calf pairs were selling for a very high price that far exceeded the value of the calf. The three pairs in one grabbed an extra bounty. It was a vendors market

This week feeder bulls were up to 30 back, and unweaned cattle were even money on flyweight steers and up to 14 back on heavy steers. Unweaned heifers were 8-14 back. Replacement quality heifers received a premium of $4 to $11.