Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tunney Side of Sports; “Coming up next … What defines a Sportsman” #259, December 14, 2009

“Everything he does has such grace about it,” said Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane about the New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Jeter was recently named 2009 Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. SI writer Tom Verducci began his story on Jeter this way: “Every sunrise is a fresh shot at victory – every day an invitation to compete with that same smile and delight of that (little) boy in the mirror that looked back at him …”.

As a kid, I was a Yankees fan listening to their games on the radio. Major League teams had not moved west of St. Louis, so Red Ruffing, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, et al, had become “my team.” I didn’t get to know them as we do about sports stars today, i.e., their ups, their downs, the ins & outs of their off-field personalities – which is probably too much information anyway.

There have been many other great Yankee players that I admired, but when I watch Jeter play, what strikes me first and foremost is his smile. He looks like he’s having fun playing baseball by treating every day, every game, and every batting practice like he’s happy just to be there.

One of his coaches said, “Players gravitate toward him. He is well-liked, has a great disposition, a good sense of humor and, of course, that smile, but when it comes to working, that grin melts into a serious look.” Is there any part of the above that prevents any of us from adopting that kind of behavior?

Certainly credit must go to his mother (Dorothy) and father (Charles) for instilling in him the values of integrity, humility and respect for others. Maybe this example expresses it: Dorothy and Charles have been in the Yankees clubhouse only once, and that was back in 1995 when Derek first reached the big leagues. His parents were reluctant to go there, saying “this is where you work.” Proud, you bet! But respectful of him and his place of work. Is that so hard to do? That behavior transmitted their values to their son. We all can do that!

What Jeter dislikes most is an attitude of “not caring.” He believes that you must care about winning. Having fun includes an attitude of caring about winning. That’s a passion that all athletes need to follow.

Will you practice the Jeter values in everything you do?

1 comment:

Ed said...

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