Sports: Part I – “It Is What It Is” vs “It Is What You Make It” Thought Processes in Relation to Athletic Success

Over the years, I have heard the statement “it is what it is” being used more and more often. In sports the phrase is commonly used as justification for situations where an athlete might feel little control over a circumstance they are faced with or that affects them.

Say you want to be a starter on the sports team you play for but your coach consistently uses you as a substitute (second string), or you want to move up to a stronger position in the batting order in baseball/softball but that never seems to happen, or you want to move up to the varsity level but you are kept on some level below that, or you want to be on the all-star team, be all-conference, or even all-state, yet that doesn’t seem to go your way.

I suppose there are numerous examples I could have thrown into that last sentence, just pick a sport and I assure you it would be easy to find instances similar to what I’ve listed for many an athlete. It is just the nature of competitive sports.

And it is in these instances (and ones comparable to them) that the phrase “it is what it is” is most often applied. Now, on the one hand, a perspective like this does relieve some of the stress one might feel over their circumstance as that particular phrase’s central focus is on simply accepting the situation as is.

However, and I do believe this to be important, overusing this statement (or using it in the “wrong” situation) can and does diminish one’s responsibility of effort as it lessens their ownership over changing said circumstance. In essence, it is a measure of giving up control and becoming more complacent with “what is” so to speak.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times where this is healthy, good, and even appropriate, most especially when you literally have no control over something. For example, a referee’s call.

You have no control over a “bad call” made during a game by an umpire or referee, even if you were the culprit in why that call was made. After the fact, there is nothing you can do about that specific situation so to “play on” using a thought process exemplified in the phrase “it is what it is” would actually be beneficial.

Same might be true if you came down with some illness right before a game, or worse yet, during the playoffs, which renders you on the sidelines. Same would be true if you suffered a concussion and were not allowed to play based on doctor’s and/or trainer’s orders. Not much you can do about that so accepting these types of situations for what they are would certainly seem reasonable.

Nevertheless, there are times (likely many), that the above-mentioned thought process actually becomes a deterrent to achieving a higher level of success; a roadblock if you will, to further athletic achievement. And as an athlete, at least one who would like to be successful (and who doesn’t?), it is essential to be able to differentiate when a better approach is warranted; one embodied in a mindset demonstrated by the phrase “it is what you make it.”

Stay tuned for Part II of “It Is What It Is” vs “It Is What You Make It” Thought Processes in Relation to Athletic Success as we take this discussion further, validating why the phrase “it is what you make it” has great value for the athlete.

Coming Wednesday!!!

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