Sunday, March 7, 2010

What Athletes Say about Being Strong for Life

Not long after returning from Vietnam, I arrived on the Duke University campus to attend graduate school. My professors were impeccable people, but not all of my classmates welcomed me. I remember one sweetheart called me a "baby-killer." She had embraced some kind of stereotype about military officers. For the record, my memory of my colleagues in uniform was that they were all unique individuals - a practically infinite range of personalities, talents and interests. Just like other people.

We love athletes, but people have stereotypes about them, too. "Dumb jocks." Ha! 

I thought it would be entertaining and instructive to hear what jocks can tell us about life.

On SERVICE:  "Wouldn't it be a beautiful world if just 10 percent of the people who believe in the power of love would compete with one another to see who could do the most good for the most people?" - Muhammad Ali, boxing

On INITIATIVE:  "Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they are executed." - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball

On EFFORT:  “If everything's under control, you're going too slow.” - Mario Andretti, racing

On PERSEVEERANCE:  "Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever." - Lance Armstrong, cycling

On SELF-CONFIDENCE:  "One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation." - Arthur Ashe, tennis

On COMMITMENT:  "What does it take to be a champion? Desire, dedication, determination, concentration and the will to win."  - Patty Berg, golf

On DECISIVENESS:  “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” - Yogi Berra, baseball

On SELF-DEVELOPMENT:   “I don’t know if I practiced more than anybody, but I sure practiced enough. I wonder if somebody, somewhere, practiced more than me.” - Larry Bird, basketbal

On PERSEVERANCE:  “My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match.” - Bjorn Borg, tennis

On CHARACTER:  “Being the first to cross the finish line makes you a winner in only one phase of life. It’s what you do after you cross the line that really counts.” - Ralph Boston, track takes personal strength for athletes to compete at their level. Plus, they know that. And that just gets us through the A's and B's in my quote database. If you enjoyed this perspective, let me know. I have a ton more wisdom from sports heroes.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .


Lori Meyer said...

Thanks for providing a refreshing reminder that the the same characteristics that build personal strength and integrity also are needed to become a truly great athlete. All too often, we hear sordid stories in the media about athletes who fell from grace, which only adds to the perception of "athlete-as-jock." However, as your selection of quotes tells us, athletic greatness demands patience, determination, discipline, and focus.

vsbrowning said...

Denny: Thanks for sharing.

The quote from Lance Armstrong is one of my favorites. It takes me back to the first marathon I attempted. I quit at the 23 mile point. My mind was not strong enough to push my body forward. Three months later, I entered another race. A good friend asked me a question over dinner the night before the race, "Are you going to quit this one too?" I've never quit a race since.