In a zero sports world, sports junkies like me are looking for anything that resembles professional sports. I’ve watched and rewatched classic Manchester City matches, Michael Johnson win the 200M and the 400M in the 1996 Summer Olympics, and I might have watched far too many montages of Tiger Woods winning on Sundays. But, none of them have had my attention like the “Last Dance” documentary. It is one of the rare shows that I’m watching live. It is must-see TV. And, the second-screen experience on Twitter is maybe even better.
Last night, episodes 7 and 8 ran back-to-back. I don’t know how episodes 9 and 10 top them. Specifically, episode 7 may be the single best chapter of a documentary that I’ve ever seen. Yes, even better than Tiger King’s riveting episodes. The end of episode 7 had me with all the feels:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 11, 2020
Watching it, I felt a certain connection to the underlying points Michael was making in episode 7:
- He would never ask of others what he wasn’t willing to or already doing. That’s leadership 101. The best leaders I’ve worked with are just as willing to do the work of person right out of school as the person…right out of school.
- It’s hard to maintain a high level of motivation; so much so, that you sometimes need to invent reasons to be motivated.
- The only thing more enjoyable than winning is the enjoyment that comes from watching someone who doubted you lose.
Taking those three points into consideration, on the drive in this morning, I thought about my favorite athletes. All of them pass this litmus test.
Steve Prefontaine: He ran and won on a freshly stitched foot!
Carli Lloyd: In her own words, “But for me, that moment was the moment. I had spent my whole life blaming other people. I had spent my whole life saying, “poor me.” But once I got to that place in 2012, that was the turning point in my career. I started including visualizing in my preparation for the first time ever in my career, and I started to believe in myself more and more. I was just insanely focused.”
Tiger Woods: Was it more enjoyable to win The Masters or have Phil lose after talking all that smack?
We love winners, generally. Seriously. Don’t take my word for it, take General George S. Patton’s. He said it better than I could, “Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war.”
But, it’s not just that you win, that matters. What we really love and admire are winners who embody the personality, spirit, and mindset of the best winners. I don’t think this is limited to sports. Our love affair with sports is often because sports emulate life and life emulates sport. It’s a circle. They’re connected.