Will more confidence win them more readers? (Or do they, like, need to publish a better newspaper...?) *
Although the inexorable transformation of the sports page into a psychology text has been underway for some time and is no longer news, today's edition of my local paper suggests that the process may now be complete.
I hereby give you the headlines of the three main features on Page 1 of the sports section of Monday's Morning Call:
Halladay, Phillies Show Their Grit(In fairness, there's one more headline at the bottom of the page. It's a pure news story, however, and doesn't lend itself as easily to airy coverage.)
(describes how the Philadelphia Phillies and their top pitcher, Roy Halladay, won yesterday's game not so much with their bats, arms and gloves, but with sheer determination)
Eagles' Justice Blocks Out Negativity
(describes how Eagles' tackle Winston Justice plans to triumph this season not so much through strength and finesse, but through a positive mental attitude)
Testing Maloney's Mettle
(describes how a young gymnast is learning from an older gymnast that success in the realm is not really about technique, but about mental preparation and focus)
I've said it before on this blog, but it's been a while since I've covered the phenomenon I call Sportsthink, and we've gained many new followers in the interim, so I'll repeat: Not only does this rampant "spiritualizing" of sports impute absurd and often self-contradictory meanings to random (and largely unforeseeable/uncontrollable) events, but in an ironic way, it actually devalues the reverence for hard work and true excellence. After all, if confidence and a "positive outlook" are mostly what it takes to win, why bother wearing yourself down to the nub by practicing, practicing and practicing some more? If affirmations, not sharp-breaking curves, are what really win baseball games, then why does anyone need to work long hours with a pitching coach?
Such thinking is especially dangerous nowadays, since so many of the meta-messages from sports bleed over into society as a whole (thanks in part to the unending cavalcade of sports speakers active on the banquet circuit). This ostensible belief in the utter decisiveness of Attitude takes our collective eye off the ball, focusing our attention instead on surface attributes and other periphera.
A word to the wise: Stop thinking. Start working.
* As most of you know, despite some recent stabilizing, the newspaper industry as a whole has been on the cusp of financial ruin for a while now. But I'm sure it has nothing to do with the internet, competition from TV, or any of that. The newspaper industry just needs to be more positive about the future, is all!