Editor’s Note: This article is a response to Are Young Athletes Under too Much Pressure to Succeed?
Talent. There are those that are born with it, and those that are born without it. In sports, it is evident at a very early age who has it and who does not. Although some believe that it is a bit premature to pressure young children to strive for athletic success, it is that pressure that separates the all-time greats from the wanna-be’s.
On an average recreational sports team, depending on the sport, there are two or three players that are a cut above the others, 80 percent of the team will be average, and the rest are usually waving at their parents when they should be paying attention. Of the few elite players, one will be pushed and succeed, one will not work hard enough, and one will be pushed and fail. Why? People are born with a specific set of traits that may or may not pave the road to greatness.
In the history of sports, there is a great example of each of these types of people. Up first: LeBron “King” James. 3 time Ohio Mr. Basketball. Sports Illustrated cover boy as a high school junior. First overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. 8 time NBA All-Star. 2 time NBA MVP. 0-2 career record in the NBA Finals. LeBron is possibly the most physically gifted athlete to ever tie his shoes, but he has lived in shame for five years, because he comes up small in the biggest moments. His inability to be clutch on basketball’s biggest stage is what separates him from the greatest players of all time.
The next guy is somebody every Redskins fan is familiar with: “Fat” Albert Haynesworth. At 6’6 325 pounds, he has the ability to be an unstoppable force in the NFL. In 2009, he signed a $100 million contract with the Redskins and immediately stopped working hard. Because he no longer had the pressure to earn a better contract, he no longer had the fire to work his hardest, and his play on the field declined immensely. Haynesworth has now been cut by a second team in the past year, and could be on his way out the league permanently.
The last guy: “Elite” Eli Manning, Quarterback of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. His father was an NFL Quarterback, his brother is a four time NFL MVP and 1-time Super bowl MVP, and Eli was always just the other Manning. The pressure he felt to succeed must have been incredible, even unbearable for a normal human, but Eli used it to his benefit. Four years ago, he silenced half of his critics by winning the Super bowl. Two weeks ago, he silenced the other half by becoming one of five Quarter backs in NFL History with two Super bowl MVPs.
I will admit that some parents do put too much pressure on their children to succeed. Many of these parents regret the mistakes they made at a young age and wish to push their kids in the right direction. If they truly believe in the idea that any person can be anything they want to be, my question is: why not pressure them?