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Turning the Page

Play like a champion today

Published: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 10:56 a.m. CDT

Play like a champion today.

Those words are plastered up in hundreds of high schools and colleges around the country, but I often wonder if the young men and women who read those words on a semi-daily basis truly know what they mean. So, allow me to indulge.

To play like a champion takes preparation. It takes dedication. It takes diligence. Finally, it takes execution.

This does not exclusively pertain to sports. Everybody has a championship, a Super Bowl. It’s fitting at this time of year that those of us who love sports are buzzing because of the impending championship games, but even to us fans, that is not our championship. Your championship revolves around you, and only you.

What do you want out of life? Do you want to be a successful lawyer, doctor, teacher, farmer, reporter, a good parent? Whatever it is, we all have different definitions of what championship means to us.

It all starts with preparation. Those of us who prepare hard will undeniably get further in life. Sports is the perfect metaphor for that. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you lack the necessary preparation, the game will eat you alive.

There are examples of this in every single sport. The most recent and perhaps the most notable example I can draw from memory is Jamarcus Russell. Russell was everything you could ever want in a quarterback. He was 6-feet, 7-inches tall with a rocket arm and supreme athleticism. He relied on those tools, and solely on those tools for his entire life, and when he finally reached the level on which those who don’t work hard enough are torn to shreds, that’s exactly what happened.

Russell flamed out in less than four years. He is widely considered the biggest NFL bust of all-time, and it’s because he lacked all those qualities I mentioned.

Preparation, dedication and diligence will take you much further in life than any amount of raw talent ever could. Those who become a “world famous” anything have a combination of supreme talent and those championship qualities.

Think about how many people are widely known for doing a variety of different things. There are world famous surgeons, scientists, reporters. Almost any profession you can think of has someone who nearly everybody knows of. The people that make it to that level recognize early on that they have a talent and more importantly a passion for something. Then they seize it with their work ethic and drive.

Whatever your end-goal in life is, play like a champion today.

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