By Conner Anderson
In the tumultuous world of sports — one of fierce competition and constant chaotic imbalance — bystanders typically focus solely on physical results, not on the internal well-being of the players themselves. As long as he scores 25 fantasy points, does anyone really care that Dez Bryant’s precocious on-the-field antics stem from a severe lack of self esteem and friendlessness, closely reflecting TO’s shenanigans before his step over the edge? Or should I feel sympathy for Michael Vick when fans continue to unashamedly call him Ron Mexico? Questions of this nature create ceaseless debate without much unanimity in sentiment. Rather then picking a side, prolonging this lack of progress, it seems necessary to propose a conciliatory solution: equip athletes with tools to build impenetrable internal fortitude.
As any psychiatrist will confirm, the first step to inner strength requires focusing solely upon pleasing others, no matter what the personal cost. Barry Bonds provides a prime example. Every baseball season fans not only wanted winning records, but also on field fireworks. Bonds kept his ear out to the fan base, heeded their desires, and — eventually — scored more home runs than 76 pairs of hands can convey. Bonds’ success reveals the first rung towards internal strength: selfless production.
Equally as important as athletic performance is commercial value. Not too long ago, Brady Quinn graduated from Notre Dame with high NFL expectations. Though the sporting world recognized the fallacy of these hopes — something that, unsurprisingly, the Cleveland Brown’s organization failed to see — Quinn also remained, for a somewhat brief period of time, positively accepted by the sporting world. Why? Try Youtube searching a few EAS Myoplex commercials. The answer will become abundantly clear.
The last, and perhaps most important, step towards an athlete’s version of namaste requires choosing one’s position wisely. From a young age, coaches continuously reemphasize the importance of teamwork. Though these coaches do understand the recipe to victory — something impossible without players filling every position — they are setting up a sect of men for internal weakness. To clarify, fans only notice production when it comes from spotlight players, meaning quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, pitchers, home run hitters, and more. Regardless of skill level or value to team, fans typically don’t notice the other guys. Without fan recognition, production becomes unsatisfying, leaving the commercial world completely out of grasp. In other words, don’t be the spotter, shoot the gun.
All Sewanee athletes should take heed of these keys to inner fortitude and, consequently, success. Success does involve scoring points on a regular basis, but — at its core — it comes from winning the approval of others. So, whether adversity comes from an unkind teammate, a disapproving fan base, or a lack of recognition, remember to always come back to that simple principle. Otherwise, join Jamarcus Russell and Jonathan Martin at your local Krispy Kreme Donuts. The choice is yours.