What makes an Athlete?

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I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation about what makes an athlete. Is it size? Is it speed? Is it strength?


Each time, I end up in a different direction, change a point of view. But never have I been able to put my finger on it.


This years ESPN’s Espy Awards, the category for “Best Male Athlete” was contested by the following;Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady and Alex Rodriguez. No doubt these men are truly the greatest at their respective sports, but are they the best athletes in playing?


Without question, (pre knee surgery) Tom Brady is probably the best quarterback in the NFL. That said does being the best quarterback make you the best athlete?


The answer is no! There are hundreds of guys in sports that are quicker than Brady, stronger than Kobe, bigger than Woods. So why then do we call these and others like them, some of the “Best Athletes” to play the game?


It’s because they’re winners. Not only do they possess the physical talents to play the games, but maybe that have that often talked about, but never quantified, “it” factor. Like others, they prepare, work hard, study the game, and compete. But for some other reason, they win!


Which brings me back full circle, how can you determine what makes an athlete? Can we even quantify it? Is it someone’s 40-yard-dash time, vertical leap, or how many times they can bench press? Would Tiger Woods have to beat everyone in all these categories and more to prove his superior athleticism? Or do his 14 career Major victories speak for themselves?


To be honest, I don’t have the answer, nor have I heard a logical solution from any of the people I’ve talked with. So I’ll leave you with this.


Next time you’re watching your favorite sport and someone hits a home run, throws a touchdown, or sinks a 60 foot putt for eagle, think to yourself, are they the best athlete one the field, or are they simply being the best at what they do?



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