As we can see by the intense coverage of the Olympics, there is something fascinating and inspiring about sports. When hard work and talent combine, amazing things can happen. Perhaps we even hope to see a little of ourselves in these athletes who have overcome challenges to stand before the world stage in glory. Despite my lack of any athletic ability whatsoever, many of my friends in publishing are excellent athletes, from running to roller derby to soccer. To celebrate the 2016 games, I’ve tracked down some great sports writing quotes to keep us inspired.
“I later discovered that in order to be a good athlete one must care intensely what is happening with a ball, even if one doesn’t have possession of it. This was ultimately my failure: my inability to work up a passion for the location of balls.” ― Haven Kimmel, A
“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ― John Bingham,
“A top athlete’s beauty is next to impossible to describe directly. Or to evoke. Federer’s forehand is a great liquid whip, his backhand a one-hander that he can drive flat, load with topspin, or slice—the slice with such snap that the ball turns shapes in the air and skids on the grass to maybe ankle height. His serve has world-class pace and a degree of placement and variety no one else comes close to; the service motion is lithe and uneccentric, distinctive (on TV) only in a certain eel-like all-body snap at the moment of impact. His anticipation and court sense are otherworldly, and his footwork is the best in the game—as a child, he was also a soccer prodigy. All this is true, and yet none of it really explains anything or evokes the experience of watching this man play. Of witnessing, firsthand, the beauty and genius of his game. You more have to come at the aesthetic stuff obliquely, to talk around it, or—as Aquinas did with his own ineffable subject—to try to define it in terms of what it is not.” ― David Foster Wallace, “Federer as Religious Experience”
“The pleasure of sport was so often the chance to indulge the cessation of time itself—the pitcher dawdling on the mound, the skier poised at the top of a mountain trail, the basketball player with the rough skin of the ball against his palm preparing for a foul shot, the tennis player at set point over his opponent—all of them savoring a moment before committing themselves to action.” ― George Plimpton,
“Pain? Yes, of course. Racing without pain is not racing. But the pleasure of being ahead outweighed the pain a million times over. To hell with the pain. What’s six minutes of pain compared to the pain they’re going to feel for the next six months or six decades. You never forget your wins and losses in this sport.” ― Brad Alan Lewis,
Enjoy the motivational fury that is the Olympics! Happy Friday!