Here’s a picture of the youngest runner entered in last Saturday’s Run For the Roses sponsored by X Fitness – Violet King, 23 months… my granddaughter.
I have coached thousands of athletes but Violet is my favourite. She trains hard, never complains, and is always happy when she’s running, no matter if it’s the race or training. She loves running. Unlike many of today’s professional athletes she is not spoiled, lazy, arrogant, coddled, or protected by collective bargaining agreements that limit their reps. Violet is a pure athlete, who runs and trains for the PURE LOVE OF THE SPORT.
Sports are paradoxical. Athletics can transform lives positively. I’ve seen it. But it can also transform lives negatively, turning athletes into selfish individualists disconnected from their team in an attempt to be above the team. True athletes rise above it, they don’t act above it. When athletes lose touch with reality, believing they are special, then sports become the double-edge sword. The intolerable attitudes of athletes don’t just happen. Nothing just happens. They’re built. Developed. Athletic arrogance develops by extreme recruiting, extreme adulation, extreme royal treatment that is undeserved. Rolling out the red carpet is destroying the attitudes of athletes – a generation of pampered, out-of-touch adolescents who never grow up.
In my experience, here’s the difference between a mature and immature athlete – TRUE LOVE. True love of the sport. Mature athletes have TRUE LOVE OF TRAINING – true love of the struggle. Immature athletes have true love only of the spotlight. Immature athletes love the reward but not the investment. It’s one thing to love the idea of being an athlete and actually acting like one. A true athlete is consistent – works the same in training as in the game. No difference. If you truly love the sport, you will love everything that’s connected to it – training included. If you love gameday only, you don’t truly love the sport – you love only the reward. Big difference. It’s the difference between a true professional and a true amateur.
No one is born a superstar. Everyone is born with varying degrees of gifts but every single athlete has to develop those gifts with training. Superstars don’t just happen. They’re made. It’s easy for coaches to romanticize the past, telling legendary tales of athletes who love the sport. I don’t participate in revisionist history. A small percentage of the thousands of athletes I’ve coached truly loved the sport. I have the evidence to prove it. True love of the sport is not common. It’s uncommon. Rare. Just like superstars. The majority of self-professed athletes don’t truly love the sport – they love the thought of it.
Last week’s sports page gave more examples of the absurdities of pampered athletes not dealing in reality or with reality. Yes athletes are human. That’s not my point. It’s their messed-up mentality that they are someone special.
The true difference between a professional and an amateur is not the amount of money paid to play the game. It what is paid to play.
Never lose your true love of running.
Never lose sight of what matters.
Keep loving it with all your heart.
And all your soul.
Here she is again – Youngest runner, Violet King 23 months – Run For the Roses sponsored by X Fitness. #PURELOVEOFTHESPORT