How rare and refreshing it is in the world of sports to see somebody handle a potentially career-changing moment with grace and what a welcome respite for what passes as the norm at all levels of sports.
The Connecticut women's basketball team recently completed a much-ballyhooed run to its second consecutive national championship and the accomplishment was all the more remarkable because they did so by going undefeated over those two seasons, winning by an average of double digit point margins, and establishing a record winning streak of 78 games.
There are good reasons why a kid should not run with scissors, or touch a hot stove, or cross the street without looking, or talk to strangers, or eat without washing their hands but unmeasured parental fear is not something that we want them to inherit either.
Encouraging successful athletes to think highly of themselves and their bona fide achievements is one thing but to allow or even encourage youngsters of limited ability who haven't accomplished anything to adopt a swaggering mindset is troubling because their perspective is not based in quantifiable reality.
There are few annual sporting events that capture the imagination of the American public more completely than the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Take a cross section of any community in the country and one can find fans wrapped up in basketball insanity regardless of age, gender or socio-economic status. Even in a crammed menu of televised sports that ranges from the Super Bowl to the Summer Olympics, the NCAA tournament is viewed with a unique and special reverence. But why? What is so special about the NCAA tournament?
I recently had the good fortune to spend a week on a soccer trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina as a staff coach with the United States Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program and to experience the exhilaration that comes with seeing the sights of a beautiful city for the first time. I was also confronted with some eye-opening comparative realities about the stark cultural differences in what participation in sports can mean to kids in different parts of the world.
“If Pele had been born in the jungles of Borneo and somebody had given him a soccer ball, he’d have eaten the bloody thing!”Thus was I introduced at a coaching clinic in England, to the notion that great athletes, even god-like soccer players such as the great Pele, were not born with skill.