The other day I was perusing the established sporting magazine, Sports Illustrated, and skipped to the usually enjoyable last article of the magazine. The article, written by Steve Rushin, was entitled “I Can Quit You Baby” and it discussed the issue of quitting in sports. My response to quitting is a pretty simple one. You just don’t do it. The fact that there is an article that even asks the question is absurd to me. Buy hey, 1st Amendment baby!! You can talk about whatever you want. Let’s take a look at the last couple of lines of the article, shall we? I think they sum up the ridiculousness of the article perfectly. “If you’ve never quit anything, you really ought to try. And if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Don’t give up until you’ve given up. It just might set you free”. Hey kids, having some tough luck in your sport? Quit. Do you seem to be in a slump? Oh it’s okay, just quit. You’ve lost 3 games in a row? Try one more time and if you can’t get the win after the fourth game, than you can quit. “Don’t give up until you’ve given up. It just might set you free”. This guy gets paid to write? What does this line even mean? I think he took Philosophy 100 a little too seriously in college. I’m going to talk about quitting from a team sport standpoint because that’s what I know best. Quitting doesn’t set you free. Whether you participate in a team sport or compete on your own, quitting is the act of letting yourself or your teammates down because you’re afraid of not obtaining personal success. It’s a selfish act used to put yourself above both teammates and opponents. Growing up, I got two important pieces of advice from two different men. The first was from my high school rugby coach. He said, “go out there and give it everything you got and if you get hurt, no worries, we’ll carry you off on your shield”. This always stuck with me. You don’t come off that field unless you physically can’t play anymore. You sacrifice your body for the 14 other guys on the field with you and the 7 guys on the bench waiting for their opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you’re up by two, trying to hold on to the lead, or you’re down by 35 and the outcome doesn’t look good. No matter what you compete in, you give everything you’ve got every time you’re out there because you made a commitment when you signed up. There is no shame in getting hurt and being “carried off on your shield”, but there is shame on just walking off the field because you’re too tired or just not playing well. There is no freedom in quitting and that line is starting to piss me off more and more.This brings me to the second piece of advice I got from my Dad and I’ll admit, I still have to be reminded of it from time to time. He told me, “you got to play the game the right way”. It sounds so simple and broad, but it’s so important. It means you hustle every play, you respect your opponent, if you’re struggling in one aspect of the game, you don’t feel bad for yourself, but you sack up and find a different way to help the team win. Everyone has lost and everyone has had their share of struggles, but it’s those struggles that make you stronger. They create a stronger bond with teammates, they make you a stronger competitor, and they make victory that much sweeter. I know I’m speaking as the mayor of ‘Cliche City’ right now, but it’s really that simple. No one has ever gained anything from quitting. But John, the author of the article made a great point about Wally Amos quitting his job and becoming successful in selling chocolate chip cookies. One, Famous Amos cookies suck. Two, I don’t know how his editor didn’t throw this article away as soon as he saw that line and three, did i mention Famous Amos cookies suck? Don’t quit kids, it’s not a good look. I don’t even want to know what Jimmy V would say if he read this article.
It’s ladies week here at the Practice Heroes’ office, so what better way to honor all my beloved female readers than to rank the top 5 female athletes that they grew up watching in both fictional and non-fictional works of cinema. (Spoiler: These athletes are all pretty much not real; however, their stories and acts of triumphs are no less important.) These five females inspired girls AND boys growing up in the 90’s to believe in themselves, dig deep, and do things they could never imagine. They broke down barriers and kicked ass while doing it. Tears and blood were shed while both physical and mental strength were tested, however, these girls prevailed and showed us all what it takes to be a champion. So without further ado, I present the 5 best female athletes of film:
5. Heather and Heidi Burge from Double Teamed
I’m starting off the list with the real life twin sisters we often forget. This is my first of two shout outs to Disney Channel Original Movies. Heather and Heidi Burge were two sisters who didn’t grow up playing basketball. Basketball found them and the rest of the world is thankful for it. The two tall sisters were convinced to play by their high school coach. Heather was the natural star, but Heidi had her moments as well. As usual with sisters, jealousy came between them. However, as champions do, the girls put their petty arguments aside and teamed up to win a championship. With fancy footwork and sweet hook shots, these girls changed the face of women’s basketball. They took a simple jab step move and rode it all the way to the WNBA. And to think, they never played basketball before high school. Their story gives hope to every kid who’s never picked up a basketball before age 14. Truly unbelievable.
4. Julie “Cat” Gaffney from D2: The Mighty Ducks
Julie Gaffney, aka “The Cat”, is the quick glove hand goalie who joins the Ducks in the second movie for the National Junior Goodwill Games. Cat’s one of those girls who doesn’t lack self confidence. She’s got a fast glove hand and can stop pretty much every puck that comes her way. Unfortunately, she came into a team that already had a strong goalie in the formidable Goldberg. As a result, Cat anxiously sat on the bench waiting for her opportunity to strike. We can all learn a valuable lesson from Cat here, people. She could have easily sunk her head and given up on the season because she wasn’t starting. However, Cat always trusted herself and what do you know, she got her chance. In the championship match, she’s called on for the last shot of the 5 shot shoot-out and does what champions do:
Goosebumps. Cat trusted herself and did what heroes do. Always be ready, baby!!
3. Anne Marie from Blue Crush
Anne Marie is a special talent. The girl can flat out shred the knar. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. She has the physical aspects it takes to compete against the mighty, brutal ocean. She’s got tone arms and legs to paddle against the surf and a strong core to keep her balanced on the board. However, it’s her mental strength that separates her from the rest. As a professional body surfer, I know the toll the waves can take on your body. After a gnarly wipe out, you start second guessing yourself and begin to wonder if it’s all worth it. It’s a constant mind game with the ocean. A horrific wipe out kept Ann Marie from participating in competition for quite some time. But as any good rags to riches story goes, Ann Marie gets back in the ring looking for sponsors to get herself and her sister out of the slums. She wipes out a number of times before settling down and conquering the best wave of the day. Words can’t describe it, so let me show you. (Start at the 2:35 mark. The stuff before is just bonus footage of her killing it.)
Ann Marie demonstrates the mental strength it takes to succeed and shows all young athletes the benefit of just getting out of your own way. Truly legendary stuff.
2. Andrea “Andy” Carson from Motocrossed
Andrea Carson is just an inspiration. She cuts off all her hair to pretend to be her brother so that she can win a sponsorship for her family. She’s out their racing dirt bikes with the big boys. Dirt bikes people. She’s controlling a 215 pound bike going 60 mph around hard turns and bumpy terrain. These guys are killers out there as they try to cut each other off to get the lead. Andrea easily could have been out muscled and tossed off her bike at any moment. But, c’mon, everyone knows Andrea has muscles on her muscle. Excuse my expression here, but the chick’s got balls. I tried driving a moped once and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Not only is she a talented racer (She goes on to win the sponsorship for her family. Was there ever a doubt?), but she is a pioneer for women athletes everywhere. I mean, I haven’t seen this kind of courage since Kathrine Switzer decided to run the Boston Marathon in 1967. Love it. Stick it to the dudes. Talent is talent. Run your race ladies, run your race.
1. Becky “Icebox” O’Shea from Little Giants
Topping off the list at numero uno is my girl Becky O’Shea. Becky is number one for two simple reasons. First of all, she’s a bad ass, bone shattering linebacker. Secondly, her nickname is Icebox. That is hands down the best nickname in the history of nicknames. Growing up my nicknames were “Four Eyes” and “JD”. You could tell from a young age, I was destined for great things. Now your probably wondering why they call her Icebox. It’s simple, when she hits you, you die and your remains are frozen like the Red Sox legend Teddy “Ballgame” Williams. That’s just star athlete material. I feel like I don’t have to say anymore. She’s the best. In the championship victory, she put that 3rd person speaking, meat head Spike in the dirt. Icebox is at the top and everyone else is just looking up.
This is the stuff that movies are made of. I can see it now. They’ll call it Takedown: From Toddler to Teenager. It’s a story of two rival girls growing up on separate sides of the neighborhood. One a rich, popular girl, and the other is a poor girl fighting for her family. Both battle for respect and that one boy they have their eye on. Every movie is a love story people, if you remember nothing from me, remember that. Their story will inspire the next generation of young athletes all over the world. Shout out to all my ladies. Keep doing your thing. Keep turning the sporting world on it’s head. Much love.