When it comes to sports, I must say that I’m a huge fan. Basketball, cricket, tennis, and soccer are probably my favorites, and I guess I watch football around the time the Super Bowl comes around, but that would be as far as that goes.
I think sports teaches you a lot about life. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who I’m a big fan of, showed what a strong work ethic, meticulous preparation, and dedication to your craft can do. Going from 5’6″ as a sophomore in high school, at a time when no one gave him a chance, to the player he is today, the MVP and champion, it is truly inspiring. As his former trainer, Alan Stein, questions, “Are the habits you have today on par with the dreams that you have for tomorrow?”
In cricket, to take another example, it’s very interesting to see what goes on in the cricketers’ minds when they go out there on the field. Sachin Tendulkar, the batting maestro, said that whenever he was batting, his mind was always focused on the opposite end, the bowler’s end, and not his end, i.e. he was not self-conscious about his stance, the way he was holding his bat, etc. but rather he was focused on where the bowler was going to bowl next, and focused on his shot selection. While it’s good to be self-conscious at times, it’s better to not sweat the small stuff all the time.
He also has some peculiarities, which critics have questioned, like having a heavy bat. However, he’s stated that this is something that has worked well for him, and when he changes his bat, it changes everything, from the timing of his swing to the impact his bat has on the ball. He goes on to say that the bat should be “an extension of your arm” and that if it feels right, no matter what others may say, you should stick with it. This is another lesson to keep in mind: do what’s best/right for you, and don’t worry or let what others say change you.
Some powerful techniques that athletes use are visualization and self-belief. The former is essentially visualizing success – for example, Michael Jordan saw himself taking the last shot, Muhammad Ali would visualize himself being the champion, Virat Kohli visualizes playing a certain shot to a certain bowler, etc. It’s a powerful technique that’s been proven to be successful with athletes and it can extend to our daily lives too.
Self-belief, as the name suggests, is having belief in yourself. Although this may seem very minor and perhaps something that need not be taken seriously, it is just as powerful. Think about the times you’ve had to do a challenging task – was it easier when you kept saying “I can do this” or when you said “it’s too hard” or “I can’t do this”? Having self-belief will give you confidence in everything that you do and empower you to go beyond your own limits.
The Science behind Fandom
I wrote a post before on ASAP Science’s video Why Do People Obsess Over Sports? The science behind it is really interesting. You feel pleasure when your team/athlete wins, almost as if you were in his shoes, winning that title/championship.
I don’t watch every single game that goes on, although I make sure I watch the highlights, especially whenever (for basketball) the Dubs (Golden State Warriors) or Spurs (San Antonio Spurs) are playing. There’s definitely a lot that goes on behind success, something that we don’t see, and yet I think that’s the most important thing to learn from – what goes on behind-the-scenes.
For cricket, I used to obsess over Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball commentary and watch highlights. But that’s reduced now, mainly because of my other commitments and priorities, and also because I can’t keep up with everything!
Whenever there’s a big sporting event going on, like one of the tennis Opens, or the Olympics, or the World Cup for soccer/cricket, or the NBA Finals, I do make sure to stay up-to-date with all the happenings. It’s just really exciting and mostly stress-relieving (except for those times when it gets really close).
Being a sports fan has taught me much about life, and given me a sense of enjoyment and happiness. It’s helped me grow as a person, even if I’m not good at any of those sports (but trying). It may sound odd, but I think watching sports has been one of my better habits, since there’s a lot to learn from them.