Sports provide for life, sorta


Sports Provide for Life -- or Not

Newsweek Letters Section, Feb 15, 1999: Response to Jan 25 cover story on Michael Jordan's retirement.
Gayle Mitchell of Lakewood, Colo.
"I can't tell you how ridiculous all the players, coaches and other people on the sidelines look studying their charts so seriously with their little headsets on, as if they're doing something important. You'd think that they were launching a rocket or contemplating brain surgery. If all that money and effort were used for something worthwhile, we could probably cure cancer or end poverty."

Mail Call from others without attribution:
Is it really that earth-shattering that a basketball player called it quits?

A Professional athlete's contributions, even Jordan's, are minimal.

The fact a person can run, kick or throw some ball means nothing.

The Run, the Kick and the Throw Means Nothing

Very true.

People everywhere are confused about the role of sports. The media does not have a clue. Many school administrators have lost a grip on this important, fundamental, philosophical understandings too. The ADs are to lead the coaches who are to lead the athletes. To many are floating in the sea of sports without a rudder.

We wonder what the AD at Pitt would say about sports philosophy and other global points of life this week. No doubt a philosophy can be stated by the Pitt AD. But, how long that statement is left to stand on its own in words and deeds is another issue too.

The Pitt AD has proven that his word can be altered easily, as per the November publication with quotes. See: AD speaks pageSports is a business. Sports is entertainment. Sports is to build character. Sports is for recreation. Sports is for fun. Sports is a ticket to a scholarship. Sports is an income/job/advertising medium. The views are diverse.

The Poison Paper

This effort, called a position paper, is going to feel more like a "poison paper" if a vision is built upon the sandy soil of a shared understanding of sports. Sports are a passion, and this passion can be poison-free.

Get a poison-free perspective on sports by getting things right from the start. First things first. Sports are games of time, space and relationship.

Great athletes have a special sense for grace in time, space and relationship. Roberto Clemente roamed right field and made it looked easy. The Clemente relationships lives today, such as too with Authur Ashe, Jimmy V, and countless others.

Being #1

In the field of psychology, many studies have examined successful people. Research has tried to find the keys to success. Are the keys located among the common elements of personality, development, genetics and such?

Being #1 is a bogus objective in most instances in sports. On the other hand, being #1 works in politics to a much better level of success. Being #1 in an election means getting the most votes and getting to keep or get a "job." For a politician, being #1 is job security for being a politician.

An ultimate athlete strives to be and to do his or her best. Meanwhile, a politician does strive to be #1. A politician who strives to do the best and to be the best is not a politician in the true sense of personal definitions as that person would be called a leader.

Being #1 is not the stated objective of this position paper. Being #1 is not the same as being successful. Rather let's examine the number one trait of being successful. The #1 being for success is risk-taking. Restated: the top trait of successful people is their willingness to take risks. The key to success is in risk-taking decisions.

Releasing this position paper, submitting your feedback to these positions, striking up conversations about these issues, calling elected officials and going to public hearings are all acts that have some degree of risk. Speaking your mind is scary and this can freeze many people in their tracks.

The same too goes for changing your direction and altering your course of direction. If the Pitt Athletic Director can be made to see some of these positions and should this revelation alter his opinions for what should become the best actions for the student-athletes at the University of Pittsburgh --- and should this include the continued operation of Pitt Stadium --- then what?

Would it be too risky for the Mayor to change his mind and instruct the URA to NOT proceed with the sale of land on the South Side to UPMC?

Success Include Elements of Risk

This web site attempts to stake out some positions. It contains a lot of information. Some of it might be wrong or might be unknown or might be unproven. The hope is to be accurate and to be passionate and to aim for the highest and best outcomes for the long-term good of the greatest number of people.

If there are errors in fact or judgement, they won't linger.

About the author 

Mark Rauterkus

Swim, SKWIM and Water Polo coach and publisher in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Executive Director of SKWIM USA, a nonprofit advocate organization and webmaster to the International Swim Coaches Association. Head varsity and middle-school swim coach for The Ellis School. Former candidate for public office on multiple occasions.

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