THE MAN IN THE ARENA
How do you define a champion? I’m not sure anyone did it better than Teddy Roosevelt. On April 23, 1910, he delivered a speech entitled “Citizens in a Republic” at the Sorbonne in Paris. Though much of that speech has been forgotten, one part – the part known simply as “The Man in the Arena” – lives on. His words powerfully describe the courageous heart and determined spirit of a champion in sports and in life:
“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
(Click here to print a copy of “The Man in the Arena” for yourself, your child, or your team.)
I want to encourage you today, as a champion sports parent, to help your child develop the courage and determination it takes to get in the arena. I hope you’ll consider the process required to raise an athlete and person who strives valiantly. Who does more than simply talk, or think, or dream about the deeds. But instead, who actually strives to do the deeds. Who knows great enthusiasms. Who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who knows the triumph of high achievement. And, if he is to fail, who fails while daring greatly, so his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
Developing an athlete and person like that will take a lot of time, teaching, and training. It will require your support and encouragement. And, maybe most importantly, it'll require an example for your child to follow. That means that before you can raise someone who’s willing to get in the arena, you’ve got to be willing to get in the arena yourself. Who you decide you're gonna be will have a tremendous influence on who your child becomes. So I’ll ask you to consider for yourself today: Are you living life in the arena?
Is your child seeing you strive valiantly?
Do you simply talk, or think, or dream about the deeds? Or have you proven that you'rewilling to go do the deeds?
Do you know great enthusiasms?
Are you spending yourself in a worthy cause?
Do you know the triumph of high achievement?
And, if you are gonna fail, are you willing at least to fail while daring greatly, so your place will never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat?
I hope you can see clearly that if you’re serious about helping your young athlete reach his full potential, in sports and in life, then you’ve got to be willing to show him the way. Champions breed champions. That means it's time to get in the arena and show him how it’s done. Who knows? You may end up covered in dust and sweat and blood. But I bet you’ll be glad you did.
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