Updated: Mar 20, 2020
You’ve been preparing. Getting ready for battle. Sharpening your tools. Focusing your mind. Building your body, day by day. You’ve sacrificed. A lot. You’ve invested months - even years - for this moment. And now you’re ready.
But, this isn’t the game you thought you’d be playing.
This isn’t the fight you asked for. That one was stolen from you. The things that were once familiar to you no longer apply. Rules, referees, umpires, officials, sportsmanship, equipment, clocks, periods, quarters, innings, timeouts, in-bounds, out-of-bounds, fair, foul - you typically know what to expect. This foe ignores all of it. This is the toughest opponent you’ve ever faced. They have a tactical advantage. It’s not a level playing field. Not by a mile.
You feel robbed. That life is unfair. And you would be right. Life is unfair. If anyone ever told you it wasn’t, they lied.
You feel angry. Sad. Powerless, even. And you would be justified. You have every right to feel intense disappointment.
You feel broken. As if all the work was for nothing. A feeling of despair. As if everything leading up to this was meaningless - worthless - if you don’t get a chance to perform now. And while I can imagine why you might be feeling that way, you would be wrong to believe it.
Everything you’ve done up to this point is for a reason. All you’ve learned from sports is needed at this very moment. Now is not the time to sulk. Now is the time to get to work. And here is why.
You’re An Athlete
The past few weeks have brought uncertainty and confusion, the likes of which most of us have never experienced before. Almost suddenly, everything changed. This situation went from something in another land, to something on the other side of the country, to something in our backyards - all in the blink of an eye. A week ago, the idea that we had played our last games or had our last practices was unthinkable. Now, it’s hard to imagine any other outcome.
Being an athlete means something. And that something is being demanded now more than ever. That’s because the qualities that make a great athlete are also the characteristics required to get through a crisis. You were made for this. Better put, you were built for this. You’ve worked for this moment. Just because there’s no game to play doesn’t mean you are no longer an athlete. In fact, that’s precisely the reason you need to keep being an athlete. Because to get through this, you will need to lean on all that you’ve learned.
You’re a Fighter
Athletes love challenges, am I right? If something is too easy, you get bored. Easy is not what drives you. What drives you is the satisfaction of knowing you can overcome any obstacle. To achieve against all odds. If you are given something, it’s not worth fighting for. Athletes love to fight for what they want. And you need to fight now.
There is no doubt you are being presented with a challenge. And you already know that with great challenges come even greater opportunities. So what are the opportunities that lie ahead of you right now? How will this situation make you better? How will you grow from this? Take time to think about this. Write everything down. There is light to be found even in the darkest places.
There is no challenge too great for you to conquer. Remember, you’re an athlete.
Remember earlier we mentioned feeling broken? Athletes may feel broken at times, but they never fully break. Resiliency is a trait you must possess if you want to be successful. When you get knocked down, you get up and dust yourself off. Simple as that. Because if you don’t, you know the game is over. Responding fiercely in the face of adversity is programmed into your DNA at this point.
This situation is uncomfortable. Athletes know what it means to feel uncomfortable. You are put in uncomfortable situations all of the time. Now you need to make the necessary adjustments to win. You’ve had things taken from you. Special things. Comfortable things like school, friends, workouts, freedom, restaurants, special events. Even toilet paper. You’ve been knocked down. Time to respond.
All of those years you spent building resiliency is about to be put to good use. Remember, you’re an athlete.
Wash your hands for 20 seconds.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stop shaking hands (that’s ok, we love fist bumps).
Stop fist bumps (that’s ok, we can elbow it out).
Stay six feet from everyone (hand signals anyone?).
Disinfect frequently used items often.
Avoid social gatherings.