I have been enjoying watching The Last Dance, ESPN’s ten installment documentary of the Chicago Bull professional basketball team and their mega star Michael Jordan. Apparently so have the writers at The Nation magazine, one of whom wrote a piece called Michael Jordan Is the Anti-Hero of Our Times, subtitled We can admire Jordan’s skill, but especially now we must reject his flawed approach to life.
I didn’t bother reading the piece, sometimes a title is enough. And this one is based upon the absolutely bonkers idea that an elite athlete provides some kind of “approach to life” that others might want to adopt. Trust me, the only thing ordinary people would want to adopt is the amount of money made by such athletes. The rest of it would drive them up the wall and over the top.
Elite athletes, let along one the best athletes in the entire world, live very, very strange lives. They spend their time obsessing over their performances. One example from the documentary was that Michael’s physical trainer would review the game video over every game Michael played, counting all of the steps so that if he was “moving left” more than moving right” he would know which muscles were overstressed and in more need of massage, etc. Elite athletes have bodyguards, body fucking guards because being famous is also a death threat. They also have nutritionists, cooks, housekeepers, financial managers, you name it, basically a team of wives, a team of people to do everything for you so you can do just one thing, obsess about your sport. (I am on record that I thing every adult, male and female, needs a wife. When robots become available then we all can have this wondrous slave at our command.)
That anyone would want to copy Michael Jordan’s “approach to life” is absolutely bizarre. (Remember when Charles Barkley said “I am not your role model” in a commercial . . . and how much flak he took from that . . . and he was right!)
First of all, if you do not have the skill an athlete like Jordan had (still has, if reports are correct) then you are an idiot to devote your life to developing and refining a barely adequate skill. Plus, you would have to be rich to afford all of his support services, without the ability to earn a bazillion dollars in your chosen sport.
Idiots. We are surrounded by idiots.
But, you say, archery is not like that.
It isn’t . . . really?
We do not have to go back very far to encounter one Darrell Pace, a mere strip of a lad, preparing to qualify for his first Olympics. He was still in high school, so . . . young. He told his girlfriend at the time that he had to break up with her to train seriously. She though, well sure, we can go “on hiatus” for several months if you wish. No, he said, he was breaking up with her permanently, so there would be no distractions. I have met Darrell Pace; he is a good guy, as is Rick McKinney and Michele Frangilli and all of the other gold medalists I have met. But when it comes to archery, if they are to be successful, they have to obsess over it. They have to avoid distractions and “drains on their time and energy,” which means preferably no job, no household chores, no social obligations, and so on. In archery, it is almost impossible to make a good living off of the sport, so a job is almost always in the mix, and being in a relation is to as who wants to be alone all of the time, but all of that other stuff. Can’t . . . be . . . bothered . . . literally.
Back in the days when the competition wasn’t so fierce, farm boys could win Olympic gold wrestling or throwing weights around. Now that training is so very scientific, one cannot afford to train so casually. One needs coaches, mental skills coaches, physical therapists, etc. just because in order to compete now, one must obsess over every little thing to become good.
PS If you do not believe me there is available currently a video showing one of the world dead lift records being broken by a gentleman named Hafthor Björnsson, of Iceland (who incidentally played Ser Gregor Clegane aka The Mountain on Game of Thrones). Check it out. He managed to dead lift a new record 501 kg of weight, which if my calculator isn’t broken is over 1100 pounds. In the video, his team includes his wife, his nutritionist, his coach, his mental coach, his handlers, and on and on. One of his biggest challenges is eating enough food to supply 1100 calories per day to support his 6´9˝ 450 pound frame and efforts in the gym. So someone counts calories for him, suggests meals, etc.
PPS I did go back and scan the article (because comments) and the main thrust of it was how Michael Jordan did everything to protect his “brand” and nothing else … as if that were a bad thing. There were plenty of people out there willing to use his fame to line their own pockets, so this is hardly a surprise. Apparently the article’s author was disappointed that Michael wasn’t a great deal else beside one the the greatest athletes of all time. (Oh, but he could have done so much good if he had just supported my cause or my charity or. . . .) I stand by my critique.