Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"The Prayer of the Sportsman"


The Prayer of the Sportsman 

Berton Braley

(although sometimes attributed to American college football coach Knute Rockne, this poem was often quoted by Rockne but not written by him). 

Dear Lord, in the battle that goes through life,
I ask but a field that is fair;
A chance that is equal with all in the strife
A courage to strive and to dare;
And if I should win, let it be by the code,
With my faith and my honor held high;
And if I should lose, let me stand by the road
And cheer as the winners go by.

And Lord, may my shouts be ungruding and clear,
A tribute that comes from the heart,
And let me not cherish a snarl or a sneer
Or play any sniveling part;
Let me say: There they ride on whom laurel's bestowed
Since they played the game better than I
Let me stand with a smile by the side of the road
And cheer as the winners go by.

A modified version is also sometimes quoted:

Dear Lord, In the battles we go through in life,
We ask for a chance that's fair.
A chance to equal all our stripes.
A chance to do or dare.

If we should win,
Let it be by the code:
With faith and honor held high.

And if we should lose,
Let us stand by the road
and cheer as the winners go by.

Berton Braley (1882 – 1966) was an American poet. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, his father was a judge who died when Braley was seven years old. At 16, Braley quit high school and worked as a factory hand at a plow plant. After a few years, Braley went back to school and received his high school diploma.  Shortly afterwards he discovered the joys of poetry.


  1. This was on a book mark distributed at John Burroughs Jr. High, Los Angeles, in the 1950s. Wouldn't have much relevance in today's crop of heroless illiterates.

  2. Berton Braley??? He did not write this poem. I have an original typed carbon copy done by two sportswriters of the Asbury Park Press in 1922.

    1. I just read your comments. Interesting! Would you be so nice to send me a copy of "original" of the poem? Email you.

  3. What is the code spoken in the first line?