Sunday, December 14, 2014

What I See in Sports

(potentially a recurring topic...)

Some people don’t get sports. And that’s ok. Your interests and mine don’t need to align. But if you try to tell me it’s just a hand hitting a ball then I’d have to disagree. The layers of beauty and insight that I’ve found in sports go far beyond the training of muscle memory. When I look at sports, this is what I see:

Sport is life consolidated. It takes all of those ups and downs, twists and turns and condenses them from weeks or months or years into moments. Then it throws all of them at you and asks you-- now how good can you be?

Like anything else you do, how you play is a function of who you are. Who are you in success? Who are you in failure? How gracefully can you navigate between the two? Do you let the context of your situation determine who you’ll be or do you take it as an opportunity to express yourself?

Can you take control of your body and your mind and your heart and set them all on the same course?

Because that is simultaneously what sport asks of us, and the gift that sport gives to us. And there is an undeniable beauty in its achievement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Under Control

Most of us spend a lot of our lives worrying about all the things we can't control. And for athletes, every second you spend worrying about those uncontrollables is one less second you spend helping your team. I wrote an article on the subject a couple years ago and decided to repost it for you here...

Under Control
Let’s face it; there are some things in life that you just cannot control.  One of the biggest categories of uncontrollables is other people.  And when you play a sport, particularly a team sport, there are a lot of other people involved.  You have teammates, coaches, parents, opponents, referees and spectators.  When you throw that many people together into any situation it is inevitable that someone, at some time, will do something that you don’t like.  It will happen.  Probably daily.  But lucky for us, there is one thing in the world that is entirely under your control.  You control yourself.  You control your reactions towards imperfect situations.  You control your attitude towards all of those other people and towards life in general.  And because of all of that, regardless of what anyone else does, you control the kind of player you are and the impact that you have on your team. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

If I Ran For Office

First, it's not going to happen. I have absolutely no plans to ever run for office because I think I would really, really hate it. I just want to make that clear. But if I were going to run for office, this is how I would want to do it:

I would make only one promise, which would be to decide issues based on what I genuinely believed to be the right thing to do established by the values I hold. I would do my best to outline those values from the start, beginning with (but not limited to) tolerance, equality and the protection of the American people. And I would acknowledge that there are situations in which those values may be at odds and I will not find a perfect outcome.

I would admit from the beginning that I am not an infinite source of knowledge and therefore am not well informed on every issue that comes across the desk of a government official, nor do I have experience in dealing with all of them. But I would commit to learning as much as I could about each issue in order to make informed decisions and surrounding myself with people who can counter my weaknesses.

If people wanted to give me money to help me campaign I would gladly accept it with the disclaimer that your donation does not buy my allegiance. If you would like to support me because you believe that I am the best candidate available and our values align then that’s wonderful. Whether or not I lean the way you want on any given issue would have everything to do with those values and nothing to do with your money.

My decisions would also have nothing to do with toeing the line in a two-party system that's frankly become a complete circus.

I would come up with plans for how to tackle the major issues facing whatever political world I was entering. And I would admit that it was quite possible that I would change my mind.  Not because of pressure from any group but because sometimes situations change and because I refuse to ever stop learning. I might change my mind but I will not change my values.

I would not lie.

And you know what? I’d never get elected. Because this isn’t the way that American politics works but MAN…I WISH IT WERE.

(elections are coming up, don't forget to vote!)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Anything is Possible

I first wrote this as an article for in 2011 after the end of my senior season at Stanford. It was the first time I really publicly addressed my history with chronic pain and for sure the most honest I'd ever been about it. It made me pretty anxious when I first wrote it...and it still does now. But I think it's a story that should be told. If you ever read anything I've written, I'd want it to be this-- a little look into my struggle, how it's made me the athlete and person that I am, and why I firmly believe that anything is possible.

Anything is Possible

Remember when you were little and people told you anything was possible and you believed them?  When someone asked what you wanted to be when you grew up and you said an astronaut or the president or a lion tamer?  I had a friend who wanted to be a fire truck.  Then at some point when you’re growing up, other people or your own experiences start to chip away at that belief.  People start pointing out all the things that you can’t do, all the ways you aren’t good enough, and all the reasons why some dreams will never come true.  So your dreams get a little bit smaller, perhaps a little bit more realistic, certainly more achievable.  In that way you can still be somewhat successful, depending on how you measure success.  But if you give in to all the nay-sayers and limit your dreams you may never realize the great things of which you are actually capable.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm White

I don’t know what happened between Michael Brown and the man who shot him.  I wasn’t there and I believe in the concept of innocent until proven guilty.  But there are a few things that I do know.

I know that I was taught to find the police if I feel unsafe.  I know that I don’t worry about my brother getting shot in the street.  I know that what’s happening in Ferguson would never—could never—happen in my neighborhood.  And I know all of that related to the fact that I’m white.

Having white privilege doesn’t make you racist but not acknowledging that privilege kind of does.  It’s not enough that you personally treat all people equally or that you voted for Obama or that a bunch of your friends are not white.  The system is broken.  Not acknowledging that—not seeing the benefits that you reap that others do not—just perpetuates that system, in all its brokenness. 

That brokenness is what leads us to discussing whether Brown was a good kid bound for college or a robber.  As if either determines the worth of his life or the tragedy of his death.  It’s why sentences for black offenders are 10% longer than white offenders who have committed the same crime.  It’s why white people commit heinous crimes and we immediately ask about their mental state but non-whites commit crimes and it’s a result of their culture or character.     

White privilege doesn’t mean I’ve never struggled in my life.  It doesn’t mean I haven’t worked hard to get where I am.  It means that “colorblindness” isn’t enough—that I have to look closely enough at the world around me to see the colored lens that’s already there.  It means that I have to examine what prejudices are engrained within me just through living in this world.  It means that whatever pride I have in my accomplishments should be met with even greater gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had that others have not.  And it means that I owe it to the world to help it become a place where others get them too.  Just because I didn’t break it, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t help fix it.  And it needs a lot of fixing…