In 1967, I sat on my ass in front of a TV watching my three favourite/favorite pro teams all win championships in the same year. I saw the Toronto Maple Leafs win a Stanley Cup, the Green Bay Packers win an NFL championship, and the St. Louis Cardinals win a World Series all in 1967. Clean sweep. Slowly I stopped giving a shit about the Leafs, Packers, Cardinals, the NHL, NFL, and MLB. The reason was the best motivational speaker youâ€™ve never heard of â€“ Antonio Arcaro.
My father got on me for wasting my time watching grown men trying to put a puck in a net â€“ â€œAre they going to pay you? Are they going to send you a cheque?â€ It didnâ€™t sink in at first but it turned out to be life-altering advice. I stopped sitting on my ass watching grown men make millions. I stopped living vicariously through pro athletes. Iâ€™m not 100% rehabilitated. I still read every sports page I can find. I still read Sports Illustrated weekly, cover to cover. Not bragging but I know sports inside out. The past, the present. I should do my own sports talk show. No joke, I would be a big hit. Guaranteed. And yes, I snuck peaks at the TV last night watching the Leafs game 7 meltdown. Yes it pissed me off. Yes I was mildly depressed like I have been since 1967 because they canâ€™t win just one Stanley Cup. But deep down, I just donâ€™t give a shit about pro sports because Antonio was right â€“ itâ€™s an epic waste of time. And even worse waste of emotional energy.
I fell off the wagon today and checked all the online sports websites to read all the Leafs post-mortems. Sunday night I had another relapse on the way to the Toronto airport and listened to parts of Game 6 on the radio. I said, â€œF you, Bruinsâ€ for the first time since the 60â€™s. Out loud. In the third period of Game 7, I actually said, â€œ4-1. Locked upâ€ out loud, for the first time in 5 decades. Then I heard voices and saw a ghost â€“ â€œAre they going to pay you?â€
I still hear Antonio’s voice in my head. It wonâ€™t go away. Antonio was an illiterate immigrant who was too focused about real-life survival. He didnâ€™t have the time or the desire to worry about which millionaire was clobbering another millionaireâ€™s head into the boards. He was right. Fâ€™em all. Why on Earth should I feel sad or bad for another year without a Stanley Cup? Seriously, what do I care? Are they going to pay us for watching and bleeding blue? No. Antonio was 100% right. They wonâ€™t. Fans are paying hard earned money to watch them blow a 4-1 third period lead. My life is not better or worse if the Leafs win or lose. I care even less about major league baseball and the soap opera called the NFL.
Hereâ€™s my point â€“ I didnâ€™t know it at the time but I was being taught by a world-class motivator. At the time, I honestly thought he was being a pain in the ass. I never would have said it to him â€“ ever â€“ but I couldnâ€™t take listening to him when I was 10. It took me awhile for his words of wisdom to sink in. But it did. It sunk in deep. I learned that we donâ€™t live twice and we donâ€™t live forever. I refuse to waste it by vegetating in front of a TV white-knuckling it over spoiled millionaire athletes about whether or not they win a trophy. And listening to the same bullshit clichÃ©s â€“ â€œMan, theyâ€™re built for the playoffs.â€ What does that mean? â€œThey never quit.â€ Are you sure? Because they played like shit for 50 minutes.
After I returned to childhood by momentarily sulking after the Bruins scored in overtime, I heard the voice again and I saw the ghost again. Then, I had an epic workout. The best workout in May so far. I lost count at 320 reps. Then I ran. Then I started a new book. Then I prepared for a radio show. But most importantly, I came to my senses and made a serious life decision that corrected a bone-head move I made recently because, as it turns out, I still donâ€™t listen to the greatest motivational speaker Iâ€™ve ever heard â€“ â€œAre they paying you?â€
Antonio was a great man. An incredible soul of a lifter, a remarkable leader who made more sense than all my leadership studies combined in my masterâ€™s degree. The new book Iâ€™ve started is about Antonioâ€™s leadership principles. I felt compelled to carry on his work. I had a moment of clarity about what my priorities are. The revelation was a spiritual event. I got the message. My new calling got through. My next assignment cut through the clutter because I opened my eyes, my heart, my mind, and my ears to hear voices and to see a ghost.
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
owner â€“ X Fitness Inc.
author â€“ Soul of a Lifter
head coach â€“ Niagara X-men football team