Heart of a Champion

I remember going to my first big tournament. All my friends pointed out the top players in the country. These were the people you wanted to watch play. These were the people you cheered on and these were the people you wanted to emulate. But more importantly for many of us, these were the people that you wanted to beat. This was what gave you the drive and desire to go home and practice day in and day out to get yourself to that level. You had dreams of being a star just like them because they were the champions. What makes a champion? What makes them tick differently than the rest of the group? What gives them the edge that takes them far and above all the average out there? What is in the heart of a champion and why doesn’t everyone possess it? Some people believe it is a great work ethic and dedication. Others think it revolves around sacrificing everything to achieve that one goal. 

“Most players practice until they get it right. Champions practice until they can’t get it wrong.”

It happens in all sports, but we think that Olympians are more dedicated, and sacrifice so much more to achieve their dreams than the average sports star. At least that was how it was for me growing up. Back in the days where there were not as many sports that paid players multi-million dollar salaries, the dream of many aspiring athletes was to be an Olympian. That was the biggest goal that any sports star could reach for. Spending day after day, week after week and year after year training for that one moment in your life where you have the chance to represent your country and hopefully win a medal. 

“This is my quest. To follow that star. No matter how hopeless. No matter how far.” 

Yet, when someone chases that dream, puts in the work and excels to champion status, something changes in our perception of them. They are no longer the hard workers, the struggling competitors that we can all relate to. Now they have risen above us in their efforts to be successful. They have achieved elite status in their chosen field and they are thrust into the spotlight. While they may still have their fans, somewhere, there is a select group of people who have decided that this “star” is now worthy of their disdain and should be subject to their ridicule. These stars are now labeled with monikers such as being cocky and arrogant because they are confident in their abilities and appreciate their success after all they have done to get there. 

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. But if talent works hard, you’re screwed.”

I find it funny how easy it is for many to confuse the two: arrogance and confidence. The dictionary defines arrogance as having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. The dictionary defines confidence as a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities. Basically, thinking you are good versus knowing you are good. I have seen many champions over the years and they all have the same basic trait. They have no need to tell anyone how good they are. Their proof is in their results. 

“Arrogant people feel good about themselves only through affirming their superiority to others.” “Genuinely confident people feel great about themselves without comparing themselves with others.”  

There are many ways to tell the difference between an arrogant person and a confident person. Arrogant and confident people treat others in different ways. An arrogant person thinks they are better than others, while a confident person knows they are just as good as others. Confidence and arrogance originate from different aspects of a person. Arrogance can be a defense mechanism to prevent further criticism, while confidence is grown from positive, optimistic outlooks and mental strength. 

I have spent a lot of years listening to other players belittle top players for their success. It seems that once you start winning titles, become a confident player, you no longer are the person that everyone adores and you open yourself up to becoming a target for those that want to cast negativity on your success. Once such incident always stands out for me and I like to share it as a prime example. It involves JK and it was one year at the Las Vegas Open. He was called for his singles match and I went over to watch. I like to stand back away from the crowded areas behind the boards, so I was sitting a bit away from his match, but could still see what was going on. He won and as he walked by to take his card to the desk, there were three guys sitting next to me and the one turned to his other two buddies and said that “that guy”...while pointing at JK walking to the desk…”is an asshole”. He went on to say that JK was too arrogant, etc. and much more that I won’t mention here. After a few minutes, I got up, walked over to the three guys and said “if you are going to talk trash about someone, at least have the courtesy to wait until their wife leaves the area before you do”.

I had to write that because it just irks me. It probably irks me a lot more than a majority of the people that will read this blog. More than likely, many of you could not care less about it. I guess it’s because I have had to live with it happening for so long that at some point I feel the need to stand up and say something in response to it. For those players that don’t have anyone to stand up for them. I know the top players in any chosen field are not any more perfect than anyone else. They are human and have their own thoughts and feelings too and I find it difficult to accept that because they have achieved greater things than most of us average humans, that this automatically gives everyone else “carte blanche” to cast dispersions on their character. I mean, seriously, I cannot understand why one would feel the need to label someone an asshole because they win a lot more than you do. They are not an asshole. They just worked harder at it than you did. 

“Champions believe in themselves when no one else does.”  

There. Rant over and I feel better about it now….lol. So let’s continue with the conversation. I actually wanted this blog to be a two part series, where part two gets back into talking about darts and the Olympics. There seems to be quite the fervor out there with many players that think that getting darts into the Olympics is exactly what darts needs to catapult it into the big time. By that, I mean being put on the radar of corporate sponsors, so tons of money can be dumped into the game and all the top players will become millionaires.

Can any dart organizations figure out a way to get darts into the Olympics? The only recognized world governing body for darts is the World Dart Federation. Are they capable of getting darts into the Olympics? What are the criteria for a sport to get into the Olympics? These and many other questions will take a bit of time to research to gather the information together, so this will be at the core of the topic for a blog sometime in the future: Darts and the Olympics  

Anne Sleepy Kramer www.sleepykramer.com

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