The Psychology of Sport Greatness

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I have seen a lot of criticism leveled at professional sports in recent years. It's bread and circuses, a waste of time, etc. While I do agree that becoming literally obsessed with and identifying personally to a figure or team is unhealthy I believe certain life lessons can be learned from the best of the best; a determination to succeed, that inner drive to push your limits and rally those around you to push theirs. There are three names that come to mind immediately in this conversation;. Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher, and Dale Earnhardt.
 
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In sports they're always talking about mental toughness and I never really thought it was that big a deal. But it does seem like lots of people don't have it.
 
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Originally Posted by Wolf359
In sports they're always talking about mental toughness and I never really thought it was that big a deal. But it does seem like lots of people don't have it.
Watch this if you can find the entire episode.
 
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If you get the time watch the Michael Vick 30 for 30. He came from absolutely nothing.. i dont think he even worked out or even gave effort to anything and could have broken every record passing and running.. Unknown how much he could have accomplished if he even tried or focused on his career.
 
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A sports writer, Mike Lupica, said once that athletes are generally "gifted" from birth and because of that nobody ever says no to them. This is where some of the trash comes from. So many of the personnel are quiet, focused workers it hurts to see the bimbos given all the headlines. That pain is amplified when the "news" shows security footage of some football player punching some girl in an elevator 7 times in a loop. This is what they think we're into. resist it.
 

Ws6

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Top athletes have a lot to offer from a psychological standpoint. Luck plays a role, but also it's raw performance. Noone cares how hard you tried or how cool you are if you are a failure in the "ring". This is why I like combat sports. There is nothing more primal than that, and nothing more resolute. I personally think that athletes are NOT overpaid. They are paid directly proportional to what they produce (merchandise sales, etc.). Also, if you think they are overpaid...go do what they do and donate your money. Otherwise just shutup and admit that you're not as good at them at whatever it is and stop buying their branded items. There. You "voted". That said...I don't care what a top athlete has to say about nuclear vs solar power, or any other nonsense. They're who/where they are for their talent at whatever it is. Not their acumen at anything else.
 
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I am less and less of a fan of pro athletes. NBA players that have fathered multiple children with women in almost every NBA city... NFL players with multiple felonies... it goes on and on. The Drew Brees's and JJ Watts of the pro sports world are far and few between.
 

Ws6

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Originally Posted by JeffKeryk
To reach the top in any field, it takes ability, work and mental toughness. Many people have 2 of the 3; they cannot reach the top.
Some things, I wonder if you CAN reach the "top" of the field in. An example of that would be "History teacher". Or "Engineer (train driver)". You can be EXCEPTIONAL, but...how do you have a "best train driver"? etc.
 
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I can cite 2 personal examples: I had a friend who pitched n the majors; for the A' and Yankees among others. In his first spring training, the coaches told the rookies, "Everyone of of you have the physical ability to make it in the majors. Maybe 1 in 10 of you have the mental toughness." Silicon Valley was very good to me, even with all the mistakes I made. To go much higher than I did, you have to be brutal. Play politics, cutthroat, etc. I was good at managing people and projects with self starters but terrible at pushing people who needed pushing. The worst was laying off good people during down turns. It ain't me.
 

JOD

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Originally Posted by Wolf359
In sports they're always talking about mental toughness and I never really thought it was that big a deal. But it does seem like lots of people don't have it.
I've been a competitive athlete my entire life, and I'd coached athletes at a high level for the last 20 or so. I can tell you that 98% of the difference between good and great is between the ears. Before I got into cycling, I played tennis competitively. If you walk around a satellite tournament and look at guys ranked 500-1200 in the world playing each other, you will not really see a difference between those guys and Roger Federer. Their games look identical--even to someone who really understands the sport.*The difference is that at the key moments, the Federers don't lose... I remember reading an article by Nate Silver (the Baseball Prospectus guy) who talked about this, and his take on it after analyzing all of the stats, was that it's not that great players play better in key moments; it's that the other guys play worse--and that the great players don't--which makes their relative performance great. I think there's a lot of truth to it. *the one outlier here was John McEnroe. He really did look different in person that other players. He looked a lot worse in person. Unathletic and in tennis terms "a pusher". If you weren't looking at the scoreboard, you'd think this was a guy who would never make it. And yet.... He pretty much epitomized the importance of the mental aspect of sports, because he was pretty much always the least athletic guy on the court.
 
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Originally Posted by Ws6
Originally Posted by JeffKeryk
To reach the top in any field, it takes ability, work and mental toughness. Many people have 2 of the 3; they cannot reach the top.
Some things, I wonder if you CAN reach the "top" of the field in. An example of that would be "History teacher". Or "Engineer (train driver)". You can be EXCEPTIONAL, but...how do you have a "best train driver"? etc.
Part of that issue probably comes down to whether anyone cares enough about history teaching or train driving to focus on the metrics of what makes someone great in those fields. If an organization is performance focused, they would determine what the key performance indicators are for the position, and make a big deal about people's achievements within those categories. It's "easier" just to manage bottom performers up or out, and let the rest manage themselves. Pro sports have a huge audience base, many of whom care so much about the stats to "manage" fantasy teams. I don't think there are a lot of fantasy history faculties out there.
 

Ws6

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Originally Posted by fsdork
Originally Posted by Ws6
Originally Posted by JeffKeryk
To reach the top in any field, it takes ability, work and mental toughness. Many people have 2 of the 3; they cannot reach the top.
Some things, I wonder if you CAN reach the "top" of the field in. An example of that would be "History teacher". Or "Engineer (train driver)". You can be EXCEPTIONAL, but...how do you have a "best train driver"? etc.
Part of that issue probably comes down to whether anyone cares enough about history teaching or train driving to focus on the metrics of what makes someone great in those fields. If an organization is performance focused, they would determine what the key performance indicators are for the position, and make a big deal about people's achievements within those categories. It's "easier" just to manage bottom performers up or out, and let the rest manage themselves. Pro sports have a huge audience base, many of whom care so much about the stats to "manage" fantasy teams. I don't think there are a lot of fantasy history faculties out there.
Agreed. I tend to bracket myself based on income, as I am in more of a "train driver" field. If I am not achieving top 5% of income for a geographic region, I consider what I have done wrong if I've been there for more than 3 years.
 
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