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Old 08-05-05, 10:22 PM
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ESPN article: The Anger Within

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...n/anger/050804

check out the link for the article, some good cartoon-ish images.


By Scoop Jackson
Page 2

EDITOR'S NOTE: With the help of our readers -- THIS MEANS YOU! -- Page 2 intends to determine the winner in the Battle for the Soul of Sports by matching the seven deadly sports sins against the seven heavenly sports virtues in a series of head-to-head duels. Today, Scoop Jackson pits Sports Anger against Sports Kindness.

I remember being told as a kid, when my parents tried to introduce me to hockey, "Don't let them get to you. Ignore all they say and do." After a couple of weeks, when I realized that they kept shooting the puck at me -- and I wasn't the goalie (but the only one that was the same color as the puck) -- I was furious. Took the gloves off, threw them down on the ice, gave my mom and dad that look, like "Y'all shoulda known what was up," and skated my black butt off the ice forever.

Years later, while in college, hooping one day at Tulane University, someone told me, "With your hand-eye coordination, you would have made a good hockey player."

Little did the dude know.

To play with anger is an art form. Most of the greatest athletes in the world can't do it. Somehow the emotion takes over their game. But what about those that can? There are a chosen few who have found a way to turn the anger within into a virtue. Most discover early that's what they need to do to reach greatness. They "force" anger, use the ability to take something -- anything -- that has made them mad and use it against itself to elevate their performance.

For most, it's remained hidden. Never part of the discussion, never an element they share with the world on their SportsCentury.

"Who? Me? Angry?"

TWELVE ATHLETES WHO PLAYED WITH ANGER

Never them. Most are too nice to admit it. Never wanting to let the world know that something outside of drive, determination, talent and hard work (or work ethic) had something to do with them being greater than the rest.

ANGER vs. KINDNESS
It's Round 3 in Page 2's Battle for the Soul of Sports.

Jackson: No winner in this battle
SportsNation: Who are the angriest and kindest people in sports?

It's that fifth dimension in sports. It's the psychological warfare within athletes which pushes them when there's nothing left. That hatred of something; the jokes they got as kids, the way they were told they'd never make it, the coach that cut them from JV, the way they fell in the draft, the contract extension they never got.

All great athletes have found a way to use different situations, different circumstances, and use them as "points of anger." Points that in their minds will be the difference in what they are able to do and what the next man -- or woman -- isn't.

Some are real. Others are figments of their imagination. The rest are the deepest stories in sports that often go untold.

*****

THE BATTLE SCORECARD
Here's the fight card for Page 2's Battle for the Soul of Sports:

Round 1: Pride vs. Humility
Pride beat Humility, 75 percent to 25 percent.

Round 2: Envy vs. Love
Love beat Envy, 54 to 46

Round 3: Anger vs. Kindness
Anger beat Kindness, 61 to 39

Check back throughout the week as we update the virtue scorecard.

Friday, Aug. 5: Sports Sloth vs. Sports Diligence
Monday, Aug. 8: Sports Greed vs. Sports Charity
Tuesday, Aug. 9: Sports Gluttony vs. Sports Temperance
Wednesday, Aug. 10: Sports Lust vs. Sports Chastity
Thursday, Aug. 11: And the winner is ...

Ever think Tiger Woods gets angry? What about Lance Armstrong? Or Michael Jordan?

Do you think there are times in Tiger's career when he taps into himself and uses the copy he read in that Nike spot, and uses it to his advantage: The fact that he -- as a minority athlete -- has been denied in some places the right to play the game he plays better than anyone who's ever lived?

Do you think at any point in those seven Tour de France's that Mr. Livestrong, while cycling up the Col de Porte d'Aspet, got angry at the cancer inside of his body? You know, had a conversation with it. Told it that it tried to defeat him, and how dare it enter his body and try to interfere with his destiny.

Do you think Jordan reached back to Laney High School, repeated the name, revisited the image of his coach, replayed the moment when he found out that he wasn't going to make the team? Think at any time against Utah, New York or Portland, when he was dropping those 3s in '92, that he didn't once go back there? Get angry? Take it out on those Trail Blazers who had nothing to do with it?

Those three are considered among the kindest athletes in sports history. Always under control, never losing their cool.

But if we think that they never tapped into some deep, dark source of anger inside of their soul in order to find greatness, then we're bigger fools than those who feel kindness equals weakness.

Jackie Robinson and Arthur Ashe were often considered two of the "most dignified credits to the race of Negro people that ever played sports." Both were pioneers. Both are remembered historically for the contributions they made, the barriers they broke and honored for the "quiet and humble" way they went about doing it.

Ever think they weren't mad? Angry at the world for using race against them? Ever think when he was at the plate, Jackie Robinson didn't dig deep into himself, find the anger of his existence in this segregated land and take it out on a curveball, or steal a base to win a game because he used that anger he'd bottled up?

TWELVE ATHLETES WHO PLAYED WITH KINDNESS

What about Ashe? Ever think that he, when looking across the net at Ken Rosewall or Jimmy Connors, didn't get angry at the sport of tennis for making it near-impossible for him to play on a level playing field as those on the other side?

What about Michelle Wie? Annika Sorenstam? Danica Patrick? Think they don't have contempt for the separatism in sports that allows them only so much? Think at no time do they ever reach that "I'll-Show-Them" point of feminism, only to become icons -- not only for women's sports -- but sports in general?

Chat: Page 2's Soul of Sports!
SN
Page 2 can't decide who wins these epic battles without SportsNation's input!

All week, join each day's author in chat:

Tue: Patrick Hruby wrap
Wed: Dan Shanoff wrap
Thu: Scoop Jackson wrap
Fri: Jeff Merron, 1 ET

See how much anger the Williams' sisters already play with? Think of how dominating they could be if they used both the race and gender cards of anger they have inside of them. How could another female athlete match that?

The question is whether it's necessary to have anger in order to succeed in sports.

The answer is no.

But if we look into the minds of many athletes who've gone past success and into greatness, we'll find that beyond their kindness, beyond their ability to make the world fall in love with what they do, there's an element of anger that they keep frozen.

And from time to time they unthaw it … but they'll never say anything to anyone about it.

They're too cool to let us know they sweat like that.

*****

I'm teaching my kids how to play baseball.

I'm getting them into Joe Morgan stances and Dave Parker throws. There's a bobblehead of Satchel Paige in their bedroom. Their favorite player is Pedro Martinez (they both have Mets jerseys) and I'm teaching them how to say Miguel Tejada's name.

One day while we were out at the park, a man in a Dodge Durango pulled up with his kid.

After a couple of minutes of watching us field some balls, dude asked me if either one of my sons might be interested in playing hockey.

"They have great hand-eye coordination," he said.

I just laughed.

"I'm thinking about it," I told the gentleman.

Little does the dude know. I gotta plan
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