It takes a different kind of person and athlete to become a Hall of Famer. The grind of a long season, the ups and down of the playoffs, and the hard work it takes when no one is watching during the offseason all play a part in what makes an athlete rise above the others to receive the highest personal honor anyone in sports can earn. For some athletes, however, the pettiness that they use in order to fuel and motivate themselves to reach the highs that most of us can only dream of is, honestly, sad to see.
My sadness for a Hall of Famer started when I saw Derek Jeter enshrined into Cooperstown a few weeks ago. Jeter, a first ballot Hall of Famer, took the time to remind everyone that he was NOT a unanimous selection, with one of the Baseball Writers of America leaving the Yankees’ captain off their ballot. Remember, Jeter needed to wait from the early part of 2020 until the end of summer this year to be inducted into the Hall of Fame; yet, a year and a half after knowing he was going into the Hall, he still felt it necessary to call out one person who didn’t vote for him.
The pettiness was again in full effect when during the Basketball Hall of Fame inductions, Paul Pierce called out the teams who didn’t draft him in 1998. Pierce, who to me underachieved in Boston and needed the first “Big Three” created by a team in the modern era to win just one title, clearly used being “only” drafted 10th as motivation during his career. Something that, I guess worked for him, since he made it Springfield, MA and the Hall of Fame this year. Yet, also something that makes him look, to me, extremely petty since in sports where the draft is as much about position fit, not taking a player doesn’t mean you don’t like their skill set. It only means teams likely had other that year other than at his position.
Perhaps my sadness comes from confusion, because I am forced to ask myself a simple question: Now that these players are in the Hall of Fame it will be hard for people to doubt them going forward, so what will they use as motivation for the rest of their lives?
Are they like Michael Jordan who remembered being cut from his high school basketball team for his entire NBA career? Are they using the lyrics of the REM song “Living Well is the Best Revenge” and getting back at all the people they had relationships with in high school, college or elsewhere? In short, is being angry the only way they can motivate themselves, with anger towards others the best fuel to achieve something in life?
I doubt that this is true for all Hall of Famers, but it seems to be the case of some modern athletes who are growing up on social media (looking at you LeBron James), seeking out the negative energy of the so-called “haters” is what motivates them the most. This is what saddens me, because in order to use that fuel, you must continually go back to the pump from which it comes from. That creates a never-ending whirlpool of hate that flows to and from athletes, and, at least for me, makes them less great than if they were able to self-motivate. Is anger and hate really a rung in the ladder of success? Because if that were the case, there would be many more millionaires and billionaires in the world than there are now.
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Do Athletes Find Fuel In Hate? | TooAthletic.com