The Arrogant Athlete Paradigm

August 1, 2015

Heads up, this may include a little more adult language than usual.  Especially the video link.

 

During  7 hour road trips with great friends, great discussions arise.  What is the difference between Arrogance and Confidence?  Our conclusions were mixed. Its a little hard to tweeze the two apart.  We abstractly decided that it’s how you use it.  How its intended.  So for this conversation we will operationally define the two.  So even if you came to your own conclusion, you at least understand what I’m trying to convey.

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Confidence: The positive attribute given to a person who has an unyielding belief in one’s self and ability.

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Arrogance: A negative attribute assigned to a person who feels his/her ability and self is more important than another person’s.  Arrogant people will also demean others’ achievements to make themselves appear better or greater.

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Some people are arrogant without thought.  Those people kinda suck.  We don’t like them much.  Confident people are attractive.  We believe in what they say, and listen to every word.  We typically can agree on this.  But what about those folks we cannot agree on, the ones that some call arrogant and others call confident?  I think that our feelings about what is confident and what is arrogant says a lot about our society and culture.  Let’s hit on this for a bit.

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As cerebral and progressive in thought and intellect as we want to be, we have a tendency to “feel” things reactively and without a lot of thought.  I think that our tendency to label athletes as Arrogant has a lot of do with the misunderstanding of psychologically being a top level athlete. A follow up article may be written regarding confidence vs. arrogance and double standards regarding gender.  But today we will focus on the impression we have of athletes.


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Ronda Rousey, of Judo and MMA fame, (http://www.rondamma.com/)  appears to lack NO confidence.  Some may say it travels all the way to the capital city of Arrogance.  She is a prime example of “Arrogant Athlete Paradigm” as I call it.  We the spectators want an unflinching Gladiator in the cage, but get judgy and bitchy when she says she is the greatest in the world.  I challenge that you aren’t using your brain when you shutter that she is an arrogant bitch. For one, because you’re dumb as hell for calling her names. Because seriously, she could kick your ass. She and I both know that.

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Secondly, you aren’t taking into consideration her role as an athlete (particularly an athlete in an aggressive sport).  I don’t know her. You probably don’t either (if you do though, could you hook a girl up?). I will assume you “know” her like I know her, through media interviews prior to her competing, or while she is being asked about competing. We see “competition” Ronda. And hell, she might be an arrogant bitch then (they said it, not me. See prior comment about not needed to get my ass kicked by you Ronda). But why the HELL should she act any differently than a SELF ASSURED BAD ASS.

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I don’t compete anywhere near the same stage or level as Ronda Rousey but the week before martial arts competition I will sure as hell tell you that I can beat my opponents. I will unwaveringly tell you I’ve trained harder, that I’m stronger, and that I can out think them. This lasts until the moment after the competition is over. Then I shake hands and hug them. We can laugh then. I can admit then that they almost beat me, or obliterated me, or outworked me. But this is after “Competition Liz” has turned off. I’m back to being “teacher Liz,” “friend Liz,” or “mom Liz.” Those selves can reflect, reconsider, doubt, and are humble. Not “Competition Liz.” Those things don’t suit her. She’s here to win, and she knows she will.

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We don’t see “friend Ronda.” We only see heightened, ready to pounce “Competition Ronda” and have the balls to call her an arrogant bitch. (Side bar, Ronda, I really need “friend Rhonda” to be nice or this whole article goes to shit).  She is mentally where she should be prior to a competition.  She knows she can win.  Her brain is her biggest cheerleader.  It better chant that she is the God Damned Greatest.

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Psychologically, once you are close to competition you should stop making any changes to your game plan.  You cannot change habits in a small amount of time and actually rely on them during competition.  It’s during this time that the “competition” persona should arise.  It’s in this period that you surrender and know that you have done it all and that you are capable of everything you’ve ever wanted.  This analogy occurs in business and school too.  You study/prepare diligently for a test/meeting but there is a time to put the planning and pen down.  You must then know that you are capable, able, and will ace the test or crush the board meeting.

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I have felt judged for having the audacity for being confident.  It broke me for a good while.  I had to get over it.  I trained myself self to quit apologizing when I did nothing wrong.  I learned to accept compliments.  I learned to not make myself small for any one.  But damn it, I shouldn’t have had to work that hard to just be ok with being confident.  That shouldn’t be a hurdle that I should have to jump.  All the men and especially women next to me and ahead of me should have knocked that out of the damn way.  Confidence is not arrogance.  I can believe in me without demeaning you.  My confidence is about me, not you.  Get your own confidence.  Don’t let mine make you feel less.  Or in Ronda’s words, don’t be a “DNB.”

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6EgVD9-ypc

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I should not feel I’m being disrespectful for being confident.  I should not be demeaned for knowing my worth.  Believe in yourself and your ability. Believe that you are trainable and teachable.  Believe that you are capable of being a champion in what ever arena you are entering.

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There is a balance of course.  The Diaz Brothers seem to be on one far negative end of arrogance/confidence, but who is on the opposite side of the foul mouthed brothers?

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NO ONE KNOWS

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Because they didn’t believe the could win.  So they just didn’t.  I think the balance lies in knowing UTTER COMPETITIVE CONFIDENCE is a training tool.  A tool that should only be used for a short while before competition.  You must then take it off or it will seep into your soul and make you arrogant.  And those people suck.  Don’t be those people.

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So don’t tell me, my daughter, or my students not to be confident.  Don’t label it arrogance to make them feel bad.  They’ve earned their confidence.  It’s not yours for the taking.  Frankly, we’re not really even asking for your opinion about it.  Because there is NOTHING WRONG WITH IT.  But if arrogance has crept into their souls, we will do push ups until it sweat outs.

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Confidence is not arrogance.

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