Friday, October 17, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #199, Oct. 20, 2008 (

The recent physical altercation between Dallas Cowboys Safety Adam Jones (aka “Pacman”) and his bodyguard in a Dallas hotel at 1:30 AM (note: “Nothing good happens after midnight,” see page 55 in “It’s the Will, Not the Skill”) induced Jones’ indefinite suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ( Tim Montgomery, former Olympic Gold medalist and world record holder (at 9.78 seconds in the 100 meters) was recently found guilty for heroin dealing. Montgomery is already in prison, completing a 46-month sentence for “check-kiting.” He fathered 4 children with 4 different women – one of whom was Marion Jones, the disgraced Olympic sprinter star, who also was stripped of her Gold medals, after being found guilty of using steroids.

Tammy Thomas, former elite cyclist, recently was sentenced to six months home confinement for lying to the Grand Jury about her steroid use ( And, of course, former San Francisco Giants home run king Barry Bonds, who pleaded not guilty to 15 similar charges, is due in court next March with his six attorneys for alleged steroid use and perjury. Then we have the recent conviction for kidnapping, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, amongst other charges, for former NFL Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson ( This brings a question to the forefront: Are those mentioned above-sports stars or athletes? How do you define “athlete?”

No disputing the physical prowess of Montgomery, Jones, Bonds, and/or Simpson, but, wait - this is NOT about them; they are merely today’s examples of how sports performers have squandered their talents and acclaim (along with the money that came with it) as well as disgraced themselves. No, this is about the question: Do these – and other sports performers who have fallen from grace – meet the criteria as “athletes” or are they merely “physically talented?”

Most dictionaries define “athlete” as: “one trained to compete in athletics involving exercises and games requiring physical skills.” No doubt that those named above qualify as “athletes” by that singular definition. But not in MY dictionary! I have been taught, and always believed, the definition of “athlete” embodies more than just “physical skills.” The following dozen attributes incorporate my definition of an athlete:

· Positive mental attitude
· Being a T.E.A.M. player
· Willingness to go the “extra mile”
· The Will to win (remember “It’s the Will, Not the Skill”)
· Loyalty
· Dedication
· Accountability
· Integrity
· Enthusiasm
· Trustworthiness
· Coachability
· Physical skills

Will you measure your sports stars as athletes only if they possess these characteristics?

No comments: