Sometimes it only takes one person to stand up and not be afraid to speak the truth. I was once asked in an interview how I can be so open about my own personal struggles with sleep, depression, and everything that goes along with those things. I can because I listen to my heart, and I do it because so many others can’t. Too many people feel alone, afraid, and even ashamed, but I have the ability to change that, even if it’s on the smallest level. I speak the truth because I hope to be that small spark that starts a roaring fire inside of people.
Although I have always loved training athletes for any sports, I stopped watching sports for enjoyment many years ago. I just got fed up with all the shit and did not want to be part of promoting what I do not believe in. I am an athlete and love the whole journey of an athlete. Recently, I found a reason to start attending college football games and am completely baffled by what I continue to see.
In my usual fashion, I actually look for the positive in this and try to learn from it. I have spent a lot of time thinking about all these baffling things, and it is very clear to me there has been a big change in society. A change in how people look at sports, and that coincides with life itself. A change I don’t believe is very good at all. I can pretty much guarantee that if I looked at things in this way, I would never have had any successes in strength sports or much else in life.
The number of celebrations I keep seeing for mediocre plays or simply doing your job is baffling. Yes, there have always been celebrations in sports; it is an emotional reaction. I get this, but why is it happening all of the time and even when you’re losing? I can handle a fist pump or a yell. I can even handle standing over a guy for a few seconds that you knocked down; there is a psychological aspect to sports.
What I don’t understand is all the celebrating for regular plays or normal hits. You have a job you agreed to do, not to mention many athletes are getting paid in money or have a scholarship to play. Should I be doing celebratory dances every time I put a granite counter in?
Cathy Yeulet © 123rf.com
What really gets to me is all the celebration that happens when a team is losing. OK, you made a great hit, but you’re losing the game! Maybe I am wrong, but isn’t winning the goal here? Isn’t celebrating normal plays and doing your job just setting the bar low? If you get to celebrate and make a big deal out of mediocrity, then what keeps your striving for actual greatness?
In the end, that celebrating will eventually become so common it means nothing anyway. Hell, it seems to me, the fans love the celebrations and cheer it on as well. It feels to me like they just want something to cheer about and to feel good about, so whatever little thing comes up, they jump on it.
I grew up being told if you join a team, then you are part of that team. You are agreeing to work your butt off, try your best, and put the team first. It is not about the “I” but the team. Yes, you focus on your job and you do it the best you can but the team’s success is more important than the individual’s. It appears to me this may be an outdated way to look at it, like with the celebration of mediocrity when a team is losing. In my mind, this is saying, “I made a great play” and “I am a stud.” They are drawing attention to themselves and what they have accomplished with no regard for the team. In fact, it actually seems to me they are disrespecting the team. If the team is first, then shouldn’t the celebration be more about the team’s accomplishments? Personally, great plays by individuals mean little to me if the team loses.
Winning and losing also seem to hold less importance than they used to. I see teams that appear the same after games if they win or lose. If they lose a game, it seems there is an “oh, well” kind of attitude, as if “we did our best” or “we will do better the next game” are OK. Then when that same team wins a game, they act like they won the Super Bowl. This is regardless of their record, which may be horrible. It makes me wonder if they have any real goals at all in their heads. If you have a losing record, but you win a game, it does not strike me as a time to celebrate. Seems like a time to be happy but to realize the big picture. A time to buckle down and turn that win into a winning streak.
I see many similarities with lifters in the gym that I see with athletes. I see lifters that are so obsessed with the all-mighty PR that they put little focus on the more important aspects of training. They gather to watch each other perform lifts and to cheer each other on. They yell all kinds of encouraging bullshit and even blurt out all kinds of cues they don’t even really understand. When the lift is completed, they give all kinds of kudos to the lifter.
It all appears very positive on the outside but is hollow on the inside. These types of lifters grunt, yell, and make all kinds of noise to get hyped up. They drop weights and perform all kinds of celebratory movements. They are like mating birds putting on displays to attract mates. It is all fluff! They all get together and act like they are talking training, but in reality, they are looking for motivation. Training is about reaching a goal in the most intelligent way.
We have become an instant gratification society. We do not let little kids keep score because we want them all to have self-esteem and to be happy all the time. Happiness is a feeling, and we are not supposed to be happy all the time. We do not learn shit when we are happy, but we learn a lot during times of struggles.
Players celebrate after mediocre plays to feel better about themselves. Fans celebrate along with them because they want to feel happy. Hell, they will bitch about an obviously good call if it is against their team to feel better about themselves. They talk themselves up after loses because they can’t face the fact they screwed up or that they need to work harder. They celebrate shitty wins or wins with a losing record to feel better about themselves because the truth is too hard.
These same athletes put themselves above the team unless the team is doing well. It is a fail-safe mechanism. “If the team does bad, I can still do good. If I suck, but the team does well, then I am part of the team.” There is no honor or valor in this. Celebrations of this manner are lacking in substance and mean little to the soul. We do not grow from these endeavors.
Joseph Campbell wrote about a hero’s journey and finding your bliss. I do believe there is a lot of truth in his comparisons of a hero’s journey in mythology and our own journeys through reality while trying to follow our bliss. The way I see it, we are supposed to go after the things that make us feel in our souls and drive our passions. These things do not bring us constant bliss, though. As we pursue these things, there are meant to be struggles and tragedies because this is how we truly learn about ourselves and how to overcome these struggles and tragedies. This is what makes the bliss worth pursuing in the first place. Near the end of this journey, we will realize a new hero’s journey and a perpetual loop will begin because the bliss actually comes from the journey itself.
Training, strength, lifting, and sports are all micro-hero’s journeys. They are not meant to be easy. The value of these journeys is in the challenges, struggles, beat-downs, and triumphs of achieving something greater than you once thought you were not capable of. We improve ourselves little by celebrating or being celebrated for mediocrity. Self-improvement and awareness are in the struggles to push our minds as well as our bodies. They are in choosing discipline over motivation. They are in wanting to be the shark in the ocean over the big fish in the little pond.
I am not saying every hero’s journey has to be about being the best in the world. It is just about pushing yourself to be better than you think you can. You do not have to take the hardest path. Take the best path and take it efficiently.
What I am saying is to not fear or avoid the struggles. Instead, embrace them because they are good for us. Understand the best things in life take time, and those things are worth being patient for. Set goals that are challenging and have the discipline stick to your thought-out plan. The goals we love usually take tons of work when we don’t.