There are many things to miss about being a collegiate athlete but personally, the hardest thing to leave behind is the camaraderie and environment that brings. Being a member of a college team is, I think, unlike anything in the world. Members are brought together from all over, joined, in the beginning, by nothing more than their love for a sport that frequently doesn’t love them back.
The FIFA World Cup is by far one of the most significant global events other than the Olympics. The meeting of 32 teams of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and training reminds the world of their love for soccer: the competition, the upsets, and the sense of nationality that brings people together as nothing else can. The World Cup also acts as a distraction from the pressing world issues we face today. For example, the Saudi Arabian attack on Yemen. With so many countries competing in this tournament, one would think the conflicts between nations or situations impacting the athletes would be brought into the spotlight along with the teams. But with the 2018 World Cup entering its final weeks, have the athletes and fans taken advantage of this global platform the World Cup provides to promote the global issues that need to be addressed?
“You can't understand what the World Cup means to our country,” said Brazilian superstar, Ronaldinho. “Not just the fans and players, but everybody in Brazil lets us know that they expect it. Our president, people in politics, all tell us to come back with the World Cup.”
Working regularly with professional athletes, I am constantly amazed at the diversity of interests, skills, and ambitions these athletes have outside of their sport. For me, these experiences put the proverbial nail in the coffin of the old stigma that athletes are dumb, uneducated, and one-dimensional.
More than ever athletes are diversifying both their personal and professional interests. That approach pays huge dividends to both their current careers and life beyond the game, which is a great thing.
It’s 6:00 AM. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Time to train. 12:00 PM - eat again. Talk to trainers and coaches. 3:00 PM - Go to class. 5:00 PM - Eat dinner. Do homework. Sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Routine; it’s something every successful athlete needs. Constantly planning out every minute of every day helps keep someone on track to where you want to go. What happens if you never get off the endless cycle of routine?
When I was a sophomore at the University of Illinois (UIUC) my Men’s Gymnastics team coach and mentor, Justin Spring, gathered the team and asked, “What’s a belief?” Following minutes of consideration and several incorrect answers he divulged “A belief, is nothing more than a recurring thought.” This quote stuck with me for my entire collegiate career and thus began my fascination with the simple concept which forever changed my perspective.