When I listen to Sports Talk Show Radio hosts and their devoted listeners, I often hear them questioning a professional athlete’s championship metal with the following criteria in mind: Can he win the big game? From a Sports Psychology Consultant’s perspective, I think of elite athletes like Charles Barkley, Tony Romo, Sergio Garcia, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Dan Marino, etc. According to sports pundits, these athletes lacked the X factor that athletes with championship rings, gold medals, and Championship trophies had. They’re the forgettable ones. They couldn’t win the big game, which means that they will forever be remembered for having failed to summitt the peak of their sport.For a long time, it was Payton Manning who didn’t have the heart and intestinal fortitude to win the Big Game. After he won it, it was his brother, Eli Manning, who didn’t have the heart and soul to win the Super Bowl. After he won the Super Bowl, it was Tony Romo Phillip Rivers who needed to prove that they had what it takes to win the Big One. So far, they’ve failed to win the Big One, and so now football fans and pundits alike have concluded that they don’t have it in them to do it. Lebron James’s championship metal was questioned for a long time too; that is, until he led the Miami Heat to a championship last year. Only then was he considered a champion with the heart of a champion. Before then, however, he was a hulking physical specimen made up of unrealized talent, poor leadership abilities, etc.
As a Sports Psychology Consultant, I think it’s time that we abandon this black and white assessment of who has the heart of a champion and who doesn’t based on the championship hardware that they acquire over the length of an athlete’s career. As a sports psychology consultant, I believe that the truth is, many average professional athletes have earned championship hardware, and many real-deal champions haven’t earned any. Regardless, they’re still champion caliber athletes deserving of praise and admiration for their athleticism, their perseverance, their focus, sportsmanship talent, etc.
Sports Psychology Consultants believe that there are two scorecards in sports by which to measure an athlete’s accomplishments. One scorecard, of course, can be measured by wins, trophies, rings, etc. The other scorecard, however, can be measured by the size of an athlete’s heart, by his courage, his dedication, his preparation, his resilience, his mental toughness, and his willingness to put it all on the line regardless of wins and losses. If they score high on this scorecard, they’re champions in a Sports Psychologists’ book. Period. If they show up on the tennis court, golf course, football field, or octagon fully prepared, mentally focused, and willing to perform at their very best, they’ve already won. They’re already Champions!! They’ve won the Big One by virtue of showing up and summoning the courage to leave it all on the line, win, lose, or draw.
If you’re an athlete and focus too much on wins and losses, you’re setting yourself up to feel paralyzing fear. In addition, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure if you happen to lose. If you measure your success based on one scorecard alone, you’re doing yourself a grave disservice. By all means, come on in and visit with me, a Sports Psychology Consultant, so that we can co-create a second scorecard by which to measure your progress and success. Soon enough you’ll feel like a champion regardless of your wins or losses.
John Boesky, MFT/MNLP/CHT
Sports Psychology Consultant
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