Pele, the greatest soccer player in the world (ever), once stated, “The more difficult a victory, the greater the happiness in winning.”

Pele, the greatest soccer player in the world (ever), once stated, “The more difficult a victory, the greater the happiness in winning.”

I have always maintained that in order to be the best you must play the best.

Professional teams have to play the schedule as is, but high schools and colleges are at liberty to schedule any level of team they wish.

Staley, Fort Osage, and Lee’s Summit west are high school teams that choose to play Class 6 teams in order to prepare for a playoff run at the Class 5 level. They are playing against some of the best teams, and even if a loss occurs, they know that it is a step toward competing at a higher level. A primary difference at the higher level is speed – the game moves much quicker.

I witnessed this at the William Jewell game last week against Southwest Baptist University. William Jewell has been playing a NAIA schedule and Southwest Baptist was at the NCAA Division II level. The Cardinals were soundly defeated, but it was an invaluable experience as they transition into that division next year. The speed of the game was SO much faster for the Cardinals.

During my tenure as activities director, I liked to see our teams compete against the best. When a team competes against the best, their own confidence level increases.

With a few victories against the best you begin to believe that you just may be the team to beat. As Terry Bradshaw once stated, “When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.”

MU needs to play a team like Arkansas or Iowa in their non-conference schedule to try to get to the next level. KU is a hard team to figure out – lose to the weak teams and defeat the tough teams?  I am going to go out on a limb and say the Chiefs have a chance to get to the playoffs this year if Matt Cassel can improve each week. The division is wide open. My quote of the week is from Tom Watson: “Sometimes you have to lose major championships before you can win them. It’s the price you pay for maturing. The more times you can put yourself in pressure situations, the more times you compete – the better off you are. It’s a learning experience that’s worth a fortune.”