Sports: Regardless of the Sport, Athletes are Much More Alike Than They are Different – Part I

When you think about that title, what comes to your mind first? Do you find it hard to fathom the idea that athletes in different sports are much more alike than they are different?

Take football…I mean that is one physical sport. Go to any high school football game where two competitive teams are playing and if you are anywhere near the sidelines you can surely hear, and almost feel, the impact as helmets, pads and bodies collide during every series. There certainly is a lot of “crunching” going on at a hard-played high school football game.

Compare that to gymnastics where most all contact occurs only between the athlete’s hands and the event they are grasping, and their feet on the ground (hopefully, anyway). And if a gymnast hears “crunching” going on when they are competing…well, that’s usually not a good thing as they are likely to come away with their arm, leg, or foot pointing in a direction much different than it’s supposed to.

How about basketball and soccer? In one game you handle, catch and move the ball with your hands, the other with your feet, chest, head…heck, anything but your hands. Even scoring is different as a score in a good basketball game between two competitive high school teams might be, say…62 to 60, while in soccer, you are lucky to see points above 2 or 3, with many games ending in a 1 to 0 score.

Look at swimming and volleyball…wow, they aren’t even in the same ballpark, right? One takes place in water while the other doesn’t want any water near the game floor…unless it is there to drink. Very, very different sports, correct?

So…one might come away thinking that because of these differences, the athletes who play these sports are also very, very different. Hmm, seems logical.

Well, from my vantage point, I consider this idea that athletes are all different (based on the sport they play), to be a misconception of sorts or…better stated, a half-truth. While it is true that the skill set one might need to bring to the table for each sport may be very specific to that sport (as well as the environment in which the sport is played can be poles apart), the intrinsic attributes/aspects every athlete or team NEEDS (that is, if they want to be very good, you know—reach their potential), are…in my mind, one and the same.

Let me try another angle, at least with regard to the level one plays and the internal characteristics that dictate becoming the best one can be. Take this past summer’s Olympics.

These athletes are, arguably, some of the very best in the world at their particular sport or event they participate in. Few would disagree with that.

However, aren’t those athletes (Olympians) also trying to become (or prove they are) the best they can be—reach their potential? And that being said, is it really all that different than what any good high school team and/or high school athlete is trying to accomplish?

Regardless of the level, whether one is working toward State Championship, All-American status, National Championship, Olympic medal, MVP as a professional athlete, or simply just trying to make the team or truly be competitive (if that is something currently beyond their reach)—isn’t it all relative?

Me…I believe that it is, at least that has been my experience.

Assuming that my experience does hold some truth to it, then the next question should be, what are those relative aspects, attributes, and/or characteristics that ALL athletes and teams need if they are wanting to reach their potential and become the very best that they can be?

The answer to that coming next in...Part II, Regardless of the Sport, Athletes are Much More Alike Than They are Different.

Out Wednesday this week!!!

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