Saturday, December 20, 2014

Expectations

July 29th, 2010 | 11 comments »

What do you expect out of an athlete?  Just that he play well?  That he’s loyal to the team?  That he doesn’t get mixed up with steroids? 

I read an interview by an athlete (who will go unnamed, as will his sport) yesterday, and it made me question what I expect out of an athlete.  The athlete has had some measure of success.  He hasn’t been accused of using steroids.  He doesn’t get in trouble for his actions off the playing surface.  Until I read the interview, he was doing all the right things. 

Yet, one sentence changed my opinion of him.  A sentence that was nothing short of 100% honesty.  Which is why I am now questioning the expectations I have for athletes. 

The sentence involved an admission that he would rather be playing a different sport than the one he’s playing. 

At first, I was shocked and angry.  He’s playing a sport thousands of guys would love to be playing.  How dare he admit that he doesn’t love it as much as another sport?!

Then I realized that what he’d really done was something so few people who were asked the question would do – he told the honest truth.  Not the truth we all wanted to hear, but the reality he lives with every day.  Although he’s living the life hundreds of thousands of guys before him have only dreamed about, it’s not his dream. 

I spent some time really thinking about my reaction.  Why did I want him to say what we all expect him to say, that he’s playing the game he loves the most?  Shouldn’t he get some credit for being honest?

I would equate it with how I felt when I met people who got into top law schools and told me they weren’t really sure they wanted to go to law school.  I had wanted to go since I was a kid, and I was furious that they were taking a spot that could be mine when they seemingly could care less about becoming a lawyer.  Similarly, I was a little offended by this athlete’s statement, because I know thousands of other guys would choose his sport as their first choice and would give anything to be playing it.

Having had twenty-four hours to chew on it, I’ve decided I should admire this athlete for his honesty.  I’m sure that he  feels blessed to be where he’s at, even if it wasn’t his first choice.  We all say we hate politically correct, overly polished or rehearsed answers, so I should applaud this guy for telling the truth, admitting his heart lies elsewhere. 

What do you all think?  If you’re lucky enough to get to play a professional sport, should you always have to say that you love it?  Should you be banned from complaining about anything job-related just because you have a career so many others want?

I’m not posting the athlete’s name or sport, because I don’t think it’s important and it’s not the point of this post.  If you’re able to figure it out, please keep it to yourself.

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11 Responses to “Expectations”

  1. jordy

    i’m fully comfortable with the fact that being a professional athlete is a job, and while in the abstract it’s great to be playing baseball for a living, maybe it’s not the dream job for even great players. i have deep respect for players, baseball players especially, who act like professionals. they are paid appropriately and do the job they are asked to do. whether it’s their dream job or not, that doesn’t detract from my appreciation of them one bit.

    i think it’s unrealistic to believe that this is what all these guys want to do. people take jobs they otherwise wouldn’t for more money all the time. i agree they are blessed with the opportunity, but i find the idea that they are “taking a slot” from someone who wants it more very specious.

    i compare this situation to when cole hamels was having a miserable 2009 season and stated that he wanted it to finally be over. this was promptly blown way out of proportion by phillies fans and other media folks as saying he wasn’t dedicated to the team etc… come on, he’s a human being just like all of us. he was having a very rough season and while i’m sure he wanted to win the world series, he really wanted a season that he, statistically speaking, wanted to forget to finally end. should he not complain or feel that way because so many other guys would kill to be cole hamels? (who wouldn’t after that new era commercial?). i give the guy a lot of credit for being honest about how he felt. it also demonstrates to outsiders that being a baseball player really isn’t that easy, even if you have the immense talent that a guy like hamels has.

    the other problem is there’s no threshold cutoff where someone is “too lucky” or “too fortunate” not to be 100% satisfied that this is his or her dream job. every job, especially in an economy like this one, is something many people covet probably more than the person currently holding the job. the same could be said for accountants, lawyers, doctors, people in finance etc.. a lot of the people who want these jobs rarely have enough knowledge about the task to know they would seriously enjoy it or that it really is their “dream job.” i like that people are putting their talents to productive work. life is about trade-offs. it may just be the grass seems greener on the other side.

    so you wanted to go to a top law school. when you got to law school, was it exactly as you envisioned? can you honestly say you knew exactly what you were getting into? was it patently unreasonable for others who did actually go to those dream schools to be unsure of whether they wanted to be there? is desire to attend a litmus test to blowing thousands of dollars on a law school education?

    i think it’s human to second guess and have dreams that differ from the path taken in life. it’s nice to know that athletes are human, just like the rest of us.

  2. Kristi is AWESOME

    Jordy said it better than what I was going to say so…what he said.

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