Something about the struggle involved in athletic competition is universally appealing. Football players aren't just running after a ball, they're at war; a good baseball game is as much like chess as it is a physical contest; watching basketball or soccer is like watching thoroughbreds do what they were born to do.
Athletic pursuits used to be part of every young scholar's curriculum. The idea that the mind, body and spirit were somehow divisible would have baffled an ancient Greek or Medieval German, and so each was looked to in the formation of the individual. Today, with our universal Cartesian dualist malaise in which video games are considered sports, the interest in physicality has waned.
Even sports fans are often separated from the reality of their diversion. They watch it on the TV, but they can't throw a ball, or block a haymaker, or put their opponent in a full nelson, or ski. To the modern sports enthusiast (as to the ancient enthusiasts in Rome), sports are simply a way to pass the time, to find one's identity ("I'm a Green Bay fan!"), or an excuse to drink beer and eat potato chips.
There are still real athletes, but these, too, are becoming more difficult to find. The equation of athlete and celebrity means that many QBs or power forwards are in it for the fame, the glory, the women, the money. Back in the old days, even pro baseball players often had real jobs they pursued when they weren't on the field; now, the field is their career.
Athletes who truly love their game, who evidence moral character on and off the court or field or track, and who do their best even when they're feeling their worst are the kind worthy of our admiration. We've limited our collection of athlete bios to these types, or to those men and women who've set milestones in their given sport or the culture at large. Don't just read about Eric Liddell and Jim Thorpe, though—let them inspire you to do better yourself.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Did you find this review helpful?