What is a Competitor?
“A great competitor can often be defined by what other players say about him.”
"This guy never gives up. He plays as if every play meant the championship!"
I've heard players talk about their teammates in that manner, and, to me that means the player of whom they speak is a true competitor – one who stands out from the rest.
"He doesn't get down when he makes a mistake. He just plays that much harder!"
A true competitor doesn't let his mistakes handle him; he handles the mistakes. He uses the error to help him correct what he has been doing wrong. He gets up stronger than when he went down.
"This guy is consistent!"
There is no relaxing for the competitor. He is always doing the little things and believes everything he does is important. It's not just a stroll through the park. Consistency is his trademark.
"He makes things happen for himself and his teammates!"
Because of his enthusiasm and dedication, other players emulate him, and the entire team catches his spirit. He is the spark that ignites the roaring fire!
"He is assertive; always on the attack!"
This doesn't mean he is reckless, doing the foolhardy things for the glory of the moment. Just the opposite. He knows the game and what has to be done at the right time. He's a doer!
"He's never satisfied!"
He is never complacent, assuming he has reached the top and can get no better. He wants to be the best! He realizes that this comes through hard, relentless training and practice.
"He refuses to lose!"
For the competitor, a team's loss is his loss. The team's victory is his victory. When he is out on the court he has one goal in mind – victory!
Long after the game, long after the stands have emptied, and the locker room has cleared; the competitor carries the lessons of competition inside himself, the lessons that he will apply to his life as he did to his game.
The Great Competitor
Beyond the winning and the goal, beyond the glory and the flame,
He feels the flame within his soul, born of the spirit of the game.
And where the barriers may wait, built up by the opposing gods,
He finds a thrill in bucking fate and riding down the endless odds.
Where others wither in the fire or fall below some raw mishap,
Where others lag behind or tire and break beneath the handicap,
He finds a new and deeper thrill to take him on the uphill spin,
Because the test is greater still, and something he can revel in.
-By Grantland Rice