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 you’ve never heard of – Antonio Arcaro.
My father got on me for wasting my time watching grown men trying to put a puck in a net – “Are they going to pay you? Are they going to send you a cheque?” It didn’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. I’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 can’t win just one Stanley Cup. But deep down, I just don’t give a shit about pro sports because Antonio was right – it’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, “F you, Bruins” for the first time since the 60’s. Out loud. In the third period of Game 7, I actually said, “4-1. Locked up” out loud, for the first time in 5 decades. Then I heard voices and saw a ghost – “Are they going to pay you?”
I still hear Antonio’s voice in my head. It won’t go away. Antonio was an illiterate immigrant who was too focused about real-life survival. He didn’t have the time or the desire to worry about which millionaire was clobbering another millionaire’s head into the boards. He was right. F’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 won’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.
Here’s my point – I didn’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 – ever – but I couldn’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 don’t live twice and we don’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 clichés – “Man, they’re built for the playoffs.” What does that mean? “They never quit.” 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 don’t listen to the greatest motivational speaker I’ve ever heard – “Are they paying you?”
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 master’s degree. The new book I’ve started is about Antonio’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 – X Fitness Inc.
author – Soul of a Lifter
head coach – Niagara X-men football team