Describing myself as a ‘sports fan’ would be a stretch. It is much more accurate to say I am a fan of athletes.
A true ‘sports fan’ gets, appreciates and analyzes the ‘team’ aspect of any given sport. I have few memories of any given Sunday as a child without the sound of a game playing in the background. Grown-ups yelling at television sets is definitely part of my childhood memories. Witnessing a father figure openly shed tears and hug another male as a football was caught, are among many of my sports fan memories.
There are even a few members of our family that we tease about their ‘team passion.’ A few are known to take a walk outside to relieve the stress from an intense game, yelling and grimacing over a bad play as if they were a co-owner of the organization. Yes, I have been raised by a family of true sports fans.
It was in the early 1990s that I came to realize I was more interested in following players than sports teams. This was an era of legends the likes of Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and up and comers Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, and Mike Tyson. I have a somewhat obsessive personality, so when I would find an athlete that intrigued me I would watch every interview, read every article and basically study the athlete.
There is something about greatness and raw talent that I have always found fascinating. So, while I understand that there is no ‘I’ in team (as the saying goes), I’ve always marveled at the discipline and dedication that even the most gifted of athletes give to their sport.
Many of these men, of course, went on to find scandal and scrutiny, but I’ve never been one to care much about their off time. Sportsmanship as athletes; that is my expectation.
I also came to learn that many of these men were actually inspiring and well spoken (some had better days than others).
Now, at my own level of athleticism I sort of get it. Being physically active at something you love, brings with it an amazing head clearing. Focusing on something other than day to day stresses and worries allows your mind to give attention to deeper thoughts and feeling. Sort of like sweat-induced meditation.
Of the men I loved to watch the most in interviews (be it Barbara Walters or NBC Sports), Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong would be my hands down favorites.
It was in an early Tiger Woods interview that I captured a quote which has grown to be somewhat of a life mantra for me.
The interview was very early in his career prior to his first Masters title. Words like prodigy or phenom were typically used in the introductions. When asked of his God-given talent and natural ability concerning the game of golf, the humble player replied with a quote someone had shared with him early on.
You know you have truly achieved greatness when you stop telling it to the world and the world begins telling it to you. (paraphrased)
I remind myself of this often. I am a proud and very verbal person, so navigating without portraying arrogance can be tricky.
I was reminded of this quote recently as I listened to one friend pat herself on the back for being a ‘rock star’ mom. Admittedly her plate was full, but not much fuller than any other mom I personally know. In that same instance another friend was sharing the produce she had just picked up at the grocery as she helps her husband fight cancer.
The wife, the mother, with the husband fighting cancer - well her produce sharing was more a symbolic - ahem, finger flipping - at cancer. It was not so much about her, as it was the journey they relentlessly continue on.
From all of this I came to find my own quote: Being proud is accepted. Being humble is admired.
I will never tout myself as an amazing writer, great mom or even accomplished runner. I do what I do because it’s who I am. God made this me way and occasionally I listen and follow the paths put before me in the correct sequence. Sometimes I fail and learn through scrapes and bruises.
Regardless of the outcome I always seem to sit and marvel at the humble ones. Those are the true heroes; be it on the court, the field or the local grocery store.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.