Saturday, August 23, 2014

Drawing Lessons & Inspiration from Sporting Excellence

Years ago, for my lead college applications essay, I was prompted to discuss a quote with special meaning. I based my essay upon this 1968 quote by Chief Justice Earl Warren: "I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people's accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man's failures." The mere act of writing the essay was one of the most important moments of my life. The ideas that were crystallized for me through the process of writing live with me to this day. 28 years later, when I am saddened by life's realities as they come across my news feeds, I still turn to sports. ...

So here are two things that have moved me lately. ...

1) I have been thrilled to learn about and watch 13 year old pitcher Mo'Ne Davis and to watch all the youngsters having fun and competing their hearts out at the Little League World Series. What a joy to watch these kids!

2) As if that isn't enough, I finally had a chance to watch the amazing finish of the 4x400 meter finals at the European Athletics Championships. France's Floria Guei came from ridiculously, impossibly far back to bring her team from 4th to 1st in the last 50 meters of the championship race. I so appreciate such winners -- and not just folks who win foot races, but all folk who have undeniable tenacity, who refuse to lose, and who you just know will persevere and achieve no matter what they are hit with. 

Walter Bieri/EPA
Guie's amazing finish. Photo by Walter Bieri/EPA
I see sports as a microcosm - a small arena in which we see metaphors for what is possible. Call me romantic and simplistic, but a person impossibly coming from behind is no different, a metaphorical level, than other, more meaningful victories that we fight for as we try to improve a world, that, let's face it, on a day to day basis can be pretty crappy for a lot of people. 

Often, all we have is our years of dedicated training, combined with our refusal to lose. But sometimes that is all we need.

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