Vince Lombardi? Bobby Knight? Fielding H. Yost? John Cooper? Joe Paterno? Vernon Law? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: A popular sports maxim highlights the importance of preparation. Here are three versions:
- The will to win is important; the will to prepare to win is vital.
- The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.
- The will to win is not worth a nickel unless you have the will to prepare.
This saying has been attributed to several prominent coaches including: Bobby Knight who led the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team, Vince Lombardi who led the Green Bay Packers football team, Fielding H. Yost who led the Michigan Wolverines football team, and Joe Paterno who led Penn State Nittany Lions football team. Who should receive credit?
Quote Investigator: Fielding H. Yost was the head football coach at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for 25 seasons at the beginning of the twentieth century. His remarkably successful squads dominated opponents and won several national championships. During the 1929-30 academic year Yost delivered a speech to teachers in the Public Schools Athletic League of New York City. His “Wingate Memorial Lecture” included a prolix version of the athletic adage. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
The will to win. We hear a lot about that. The will and the wish to win, but there isn’t a chance for either one of them to be gratified or to have any value unless there has been a will to prepare to win: the will to prepare for service, to do the things that build and develop our capacity, physical, mental, and moral.
Yost reiterated this notion during several speeches, and QI believes he was primarily responsible for its popularization although the phrasing he employed was variable. During the ensuing decades other coaches adopted the saying.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading