We often use sports as a metaphor for life. Overall, sports often package life’s lessons into neat 60-minute games or into perfect soundbites that summarize to achieve at a high level. For this reason, we sifted over the glories of all sports, seeking to find a few uber-inspirational sports quotes.
Muhammad Ali, the inventor of the modern overconfident athlete persona and multiple time world boxing champion, has many quotes that could have made this list, but we thought we’d get him out of the way early.
The speech Jimmy Valvano gave at the 1993 ESPY awards is choked full of wisdom and tightly-packed emotion, and it was hard to pick just one phrase from it. In it, legendary NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano is given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, with everyone in the room knowing that he was going to die within a few weeks. It’s worth a watch.
The world-renowed basketball player Michael Jordan is always thought of as the victor, the one who took the shot no one else could make, the one who transformed the game. In these simple lines quantifying his failures, Jordan shows that getting to success is never easy, and that the failures are what make us who we are.
No one knows enthusiasm and integrity better than Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. A Hall Of Fame Shortstop, Banks knew about losing, playing mostly for terrible Cubs teams.
Recently retired First-Ballot-Hall-of-Fame shortstop accomplished a lot in his career with the New York Yankees, and was widely thought of as a class act. Jeter was a player’s player, a hard worker, and here he shows what got him there: hard work.
Nine-time Olympic champion Mark Spitz was an amazing swimmer, and nothing got him to where he wanted to be more than preparing. Spitz records stood until Michael Phelps broke them recently, so I’d say he has room to talk about preparation.
John Madden may be known for being a broadcaster and owner of a popular video game franchise, but before that, he coached the Oakland Raiders to two Superbowl Championship. In this, Madden shows how it wasn’t easy to get where he ended up.
Cal Ripken Jr. holds the streak in baseball, for most consecutive games played, with 2,632 games over the course of more than 16 years. You can see how he may consider himself stubborn, as he just trotted out there, every day, for more than a decade and a half.
Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street, as an alpine skier, blew past her limits pretty consistently. Whizzing down a mountain at high speeds does take courage, and so does achieving your goals.
During his Hall-Of-Fame career with the Chicago Bears, Mike Singletary was known for his tenacity and his eyes. This must have been the result of a child-like vigor that he brought every day.
Legendary Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige was big on creativity and perseverance. Sometimes thought of as one of the greatest pitchers to ever live, Paige would never quit, and never let his emotions take over.
World Heavy Weight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield knows a lot about fighting and the heart. He was the man who had his ear bit off by Mike Tyson, and was at one point the undisputed world boxing champion.
The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, was widely regarded as the best hockey player to ever play the game. In his best season, he had in average more than one goal per game, and was a four-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Edmonton Oilers. He never saw a shot he didn’t like.
Hall-of-Fame NBA Coach Phil Jackson won a total of eleven (!!!) championships during his coaching career: six with the Chicago Bulls and then five more with the Los Angeles LAkers, which complimented two he had as a player with the Knicks. He worked with the aforementioned Jordan, as well as with Shaquille O’Neill, with Kobe Bryant, with many others, such as Scottie Pippen. The man knows how to win, and, if he says wisdom is more vital than strength, you better listen.
Vince Lombardi is the man the Super Bowl Trophy is named after. He was a legendary coach with the Green Bay Packers, and won the first two SuperBowls. Full of hard-nosed wisdom, Lombardi’s quote is one to live by.
Featured photo credit: Korea_Wresting_Kim_Hywonwoo_05/Republic of Korea via flickr.com
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