The Game Doesn’t Care
In 1936, Jesse Owens showed the world the meaning of excellence as he broke 9 Olympic Records and 3 World Records on the track.
But it wasn’t just any track – it was in Hitler’s Berlin.
It didn’t matter to him that at that time, many Germans (and, sadly, Americans) believed African-Americans were “inferior” to whites.
When he stepped on that track, he let his legs do the talking and came home with four gold medals.
Because the game doesn’t care. It doesn’t care what color you are, what your name is, who your parents are, or how much you spent on training.
He didn’t make a big deal of it. He didn’t talk a lot about it. He just went out and performed. He didn’t need to talk. Jesse Owens reminded all of us that the game doesn’t care.
And in 2012, Olympic athletes are still doing it.
Saudi Arabia, ruled by a strict religious government, sent female athletes to the Olympics for the first time in history this year. Despite insults and slurs from her countrymen, who did not believe it was a woman’s “place” to be competing in sports, Sarah Attar went anyway, wearing an athletic hijab (left).
Unlike Owens, Attar did not go on to break records this year. In fact, she finished dead last. There is no special treatment for athletes breaking ground. Again – the game doesn’t care if you lose any more than it cares if you win.
Thousands of spectators rose to their feet and applauded her as she crossed the finish line anyway. She had come a lot further than the 800 meters she ran around the track.
Of the 11,000 athletes at the London Games, 23 were openly gay. Some faced persecution in their home countries. 10 of them took home medals, according to SBNation - the same number of medals as Mexico.
None of these athletes held a press conference to tell the world about their personal choices. None of them asked for special treatment.
Neither did Oscar Pistorius. He doesn’t have legs below his knees. But he didn’t let that stop him from becoming one of the fastest runners in the world and competing in the Olmpics.
Should it be any surprise that athletes have this attitude? No matter who you are, as an athlete, you will face adversity. You will have doubters. Your competition will jeer you. You ignore them. These men and women did nothing different than what any other athlete would do.
“‘I’ve been playing a lot better than I’ve ever played before’”, said gold medalist Megan Rapinoe in an interview in Sports Illustrated. “‘I’m just enjoying myself and I’m happy.’”
She just went out, played, and won. Period.
A true competitor struggles and sweats toward their goal until there is nothing left in their body to give. Sometimes they do it in competition, sometimes they do it in the world. Sometimes they do both at the same time.
The next time you feel like you can’t, remember these athletes that fought their way forward with their country, the world, and even their own bodies working against them. If these men and women can beat the odds and make it to the world’s toughest athletic competition, you can make it to the next level and play in college.
If you’re persistent, disciplined, and you don’t ever, ever, ever give up.
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