Some people think that success in the world of sports is a result of talent. Talent that is god-given and requires no effort to develop. Some lucky athletes are born with the physical tools necessary to become high level athletes. However, rising to the top in any sport is not strictly a result of a favorable genetic makeup. To be the best, one must put in work to maximize their natural athletic ability. A 6’8” man with a 35 inch vertical and fast sprint speed could potentially be an NBA caliber athlete. However, if he sits at home and watches tv on his couch all day, his chances of making it are slim. There are many things that play into being a great athlete, but natural ability is only a small portion. You can be given a gift through genetics and nature, but a championship athlete is made of hard work, confidence, and the athletes that surround him or her.
When it comes to sports, confidence and belief in oneself are for more effective weapons than a gifted body. Some humans may be gifted with supreme physical abilities, and even some innate talent to play a sport. But, the most powerful weapon that any human can use to excel is their mind. The right mindset can open up almost any possibility. If Muggsy Bouges, the shortest player to ever grace the NBA courts, had the attitude that he was too short to play in the NBA, there is no way he would have ever made it. It’s a cliché saying, but to be able to achieve something you first must believe in it. Muggsy played the game of basketball with a swagger and moxie that made him an effective NBA player, even at his height. He believed that if life hands you a lemon, you can make a lemonade. He found a way to use his short height to his advantage. He wowed crowds by weaving through taller men as if they were trees standing still. He worked to develop a quick step, and no one could steal the ball from him because they had to reach down so low! As Thomas Jefferson once said “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” There are an infinite amounts of excuses that an athlete can make about why they can’t be the best. The ones who do end up successful view their deficiencies as a challenge, and they try to turn disadvantages into advantages.
As young children, certain athletes get to play against other talented children if they live in a talented area. The athletes they compete against can play a big part in developing their skills. New York City has been a hot bed for basketball talent for years and years. Some people believe that African-Americans dominate the sport of basketball because they have an innate athleticism catered to basketball that cannot be matched by Caucasians. While this may be true, it is much more likely that the environment of these children is the reason for their ability to play the sport. Inner city black youth in New York are surrounded by more children playing basketball than any other place in the country. They are raised in a culture of basketball. Famous players such as Stephon Marbury, Lance Stephenson, and Sebastian Telfair were all raised in inner city New York. The documentary THROUGH THE FIRE chronicles Telfair’s life growing up in New York City. AS the cameras follow him around his neighborhood, there are kids playing basketball at every corner. There, young children spend their years on the playground, competing against some of the best talent in the country. No wonder New York has such a plethora of talented players! An old coach of mine once said “To be the best, you have to play with and against the best.” Inner city youth personify this quote.
While there are many talented youth in Inner City America, our European counterparts are slowly but surely catching up with our nation, which has dominated basketball for decades. Is it because the Europeans are more athletic than us and possess