Many athletes seem to derive strong motivation from feeling oppressed because of their race, their culture, their gender, or even their size. All my life, people have told me,You’re too small, you are too small, said 5-foot-6 NHL forward Theo Fleury, an all-star throughout the 1990s with the Calgary Flames. One year he scored 51 goals, showing lots of emotion when he scored. His coach, Doug Risebrough, was always amazed how Fleury could play over his head with emotional play that he seemed to be able to control. This is a sport that requires a lot of energy and enthusiasm and it allows guys like Theo to bring their game to another level. He does not feel comfortable unless he emotionally charges himself . but you have to be careful because it can go from a positive to a negative. It can pull a player down. According to Risebrough, hockey was more than a game for Fleury. The game represents a great platform of measuring yourself. I think he looks at it that way. But he enjoys it, too.
The opposite type of syndrome has been reported by many basketball players. Wilt Chamberlain said he tried harder because some people said it was easy for him to play the game at more than seven feet tall. My drive stemmed from some inner need to prove I’m good, and smart, and not just big, he said. Wilt was big and smart enough to lead the NBA in scoring seven times and scored 100 points in a single game.
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One of the most explosive examples of race motivation was Jesse Owens, a U.S. track star who badly wanted to prove that his Afro-American race could compete as well as, or better than, the host Nazis, a white supremacy party, in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The German papers ran stories about how we were subhuman and wouldn’t be any competition for Hitler’s master race, Owens recalled. During the games, Hitler also snubbed Owens by leaving the stadium before one of his long-jump performances. I was mad, hate-mad, and it made me feel wild, Owens said. I was going to show him. I felt the energy surging into my legs and tingling in the muscles of my stomach as it never had before. I began my run, first almost in slow motion . Owens went on to win a record four gold medals in the Games.
But racial oppression may not be as strong as it used to be for American blacks, according to author and former psychoanalyst Varda Burstyn. It was more so in the 1960s when there was a strong bond between civil leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and successful athletes of me day like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and Jackie Robinson. The success of these black athletes became the embodiment of the right to equality of the black community. agility drills for football These super macho guys acted in the name of their communities. In the last 25 or 30 years, social movements have lost prominence and there’s been a major shift to the right. Nobody is interested in Jesse Jackson anymore. And athletes like Michael Jordan have not aspired to the needs of their communities and they won’t address the racial issues. They identify with the oppressor rather than the oppressed. The black athlete has become a corporate warrior.
Another Olympic hero, weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu of Turkey, became known as The Pocket Hercules and at 4-feet, 11-inches tall and 140 pounds, was pound for pound the world’s strongest man after winning three gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. speed and agility training program The people of Turkey want me to win, so I do it for them, said Suleymanoglu, who represented Turkish triumph over oppression as part of a minority in Bulgaria (in 1986, during a period of ruthless repression of that minority, he defected to Turkey).
In the Olympic Games, particularly in track and field, the best performances come from either people from an oppressed society or oppressed segments of society, said former U.S. Olympic track coach Brooks Johnson. There have been famous cases of black people who have been dominated and to some extent Jewish people. And people from the Iron Bloc did particularly well because they had a hunger that didn’t exist in other places of affluence.
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