It is often said that in order to achieve success in sport, at some level you have to be an a***hole. ‘To be successful you can’t be a nice guy.’ ‘To be successful you have to be arrogant/selfish/an egotist.’ You see this often, as all sorts of antisocial behaviour is defended under this catch all umbrella. The same logic is applied to coaches. Coaches play tricks on opposing teams, or browbeat referees and officials to gain an advantage. I have personally seen all sorts of disgraceful behaviour from both coaches and players whose egos and sense of self worth is determined only by the outcome of the games. And I stress that I have seen behaviour from at the junior level that is much worse then that of most professionals, and even by the above definition, far less defensible. The level of the competition is not the determinant here.
It was with great interest that I read this article about Rafael Nadal. Apart from just being a well written article about a great champion, it introduces the idea that his great fighting qualities are solely positive. He is not fighting to defend his ego, to determine his short term self worth, or to prove a point to the world. As Boris Becker is quoted as saying “He loves to be down and out. It comes from love. Amazing.” ‘It comes from love.’ I am reasonably confident that competitiveness has not often been described in that way.
It begs the question, do you actually have to be an a***hole to win or is that myth perpetrated by a***holes to excuse their own bad behaviour?
PLEASE NOTE: The correct spelling is a***hole. It is not a**hole. That would be something to do with a donkey.