Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Adversity - does it create a better athlete?

I get to work with a lot of athletes throughout the year. The old guys are the kindest, they're just glad to be remembered. The young ones tend to have a chip on their shoulder, or at least are getting babied by their coaches and can't handle anything by themselves. The current "stars" or just recently retired have egos the size of kingdom come. It's just how it is, and I'm used to it. I'm not saying every athlete is a pain in the butt, however . . . . it tends to be the case more often than not. I'm not trying to dog on them. I love working in this industry, I love the excitement athletes bring to events, but it's not always pleasant . . . I've been ignored and dismissed more often than not. So, when an athlete shows me how down to earth and kind they are, it definitely stands out to me.

The athlete I most recently dealt with is about to go into the NFL draft. He just came off of the biggest game in NCAA football, and will have far too much money thrown at him in the first round (he will with out a doubt be a first round draft pick). And his attitude toward everyone else is like he's staying home and going to coach little league. You can tell he's not comfortable with all of the attention, but he's taking it in stride. He's proud of himself, but he's not telling everyone how wonderful he is. And, unlike other kids (because he is still just a kid) in a similar position (cough, cough, cough . . . LeBron) he's just trying to better himself and play football.

So why is he different? It could be his mom and the way she raised him. It could be because he had adversity growing up. His mom worked three jobs, he grew up in the projects, and he had a kid when he was in high school. A kid raising a kid. Yes, he stuck around. Sadly, I don't think that's the normal, and I wonder if this didn't spur something in him. He wanted to play better for his kid? Maybe he just wanted to get out of the projects (think of Michael Oher). Maybe he didn't want to see his Mom work three jobs anymore, and wanted to provide for her. Maybe he just didn't want to eat peanut butter and jelly for dinner every night because it's all they could afford.

Do I think this will keep him from getting any ego? Heck no. So much is going to be thrown at him (girls, money, and everything else you can think of), he'll get an ego. But I can guarantee his momma is gonna keep him in check. She had to work her butt off. He knows what that's like. He kills it on the field every game, because that's his job. I know he loves the game, but I wonder if he just has a different outlook than the other athletes out there because of what he went through.

I almost wish all athletes had to go through similar types of adversity (Hollywood too), but then I don't wish anyone to be in a bad situation. I'm just tired of the egos. I don't know if this is the reason he's down to earth and kind, but his situation is different and so is he. Maybe it caused him to be a better athlete. Maybe it didn't. Either way, I'll be routing for him.

1 comment:

  1. So much goes back to Mom and how a kid was raised. This whole generation of young adults who act like they are entitled to whatever they want, just because they exist really frustrates me. If all parents, regardless of economic level, would required their children to take some responsibility for themselves and to contribute something to the family, we would all be better off. Athletes are just a very visible and extreme tip of the iceberg here!