“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” ~ Muhammad Ali
I’m not going to lie. I’m more into reading books and watching movies about sports and athletes than I am actually watching sports events (with the sometimes exception of The World Cup).
I’m utterly fascinated by the determination, will, perseverance, boundary-stretching and creativity possessed by athletes the world over, and because I don’t even remotely self-identify as an athlete (though thanks to yoga, I’m working on this), I regard athletes with the kind of fascination one might display toward species from another planet, or those tiny microorganisms we used to watch wriggling around in Petri dishes in Biology class.
It astonishes me that some of my favorite movie experiences and memories feature athleticism.
I’ve seen Raging Bull, Rocky, Rudy and The Natural altogether dozens of times—time that might have arguably been better spent outdoors with the basketball net my father optimistically installed in our driveway. I also devoured Haruki Murakami’s Things I Talk About When I Talk About Running—that a brilliant writer is also a distinguished marathon runner fills me with a curious blend of wonder and hope: people like this do exist!
To work with the mind to the extent that mastery over one’s physical self becomes a triumphant reality, to work this diligently with any passion or activity…to me, this is the very foundation of spiritual practice.
Body, mind, union and harmony. There must be a sports metaphor for how delightful this combination is, how valuable and rewarding and fun, but I’ll leave that for someone far more in-the-know than I.
On this Superbowl weekend, here is a little taste of what is possible in the world of sports and athleticism, from the mouths of those who have poured their heart and soul into game and play:
“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky
“You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” ~ Jerry West
“It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” ~ Paul “Bear” Bryant
“Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character.” ~ T. Alan Armstrong
“You are the handicap you must face. You are the one who must choose your place.” ~ James Lane Allen
“It isn’t hard to be good from time to time in sports. What is tough, is being good every day.” – Willie Mays
“Football is like life, it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” ~ Vince Lombardi
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth
“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ~ Vince Lombardi
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” ~ Billie Jean King
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan
“Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.” ~ Dan Gable
“I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” ~ Mia Hamm
“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce
“Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.” ~ Ambrose Bierce
“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life—and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree.” ~ Haruki Murakami
I don’t think anyone should go this entire weekend without watching the most emotional scene in the history of cinema (those who haven’t seen Rudy should watch the whole film first!)
And a scene many would say is the emotional scene in the history of cinema, from “The Newsroom.”
Relephant to this:
Author: Tammy T. Stone
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own