Sports stories have a huge popular following. Millions of fans follow football, baseball, or hockey games every week. Yet more millions stay glued to their television sets every four years as an Olympiad rolls on by. What is it that we find so incredibly compelling and inspiring about athletic pursuits and success stories? Why do we keep watching and listening? Athletics are a smaller version of human struggling, a microcosm our lives. In a game, a race, or a ring we watch a bit of history unfold. We watch individuals struggle against others and against themselves. We watch them struggle with the weight of expectations and the weight of what others have accomplished before. And inevitably we watch as someone overcomes obstacles and fears to become a champion and hero.
Sports as Life
We love success stories in sports because they remind us about certain facts of life success. The game is always hard. The game is never over until the end, and no winner was born a winner. The win is in the training, in the practice. Just trust Muhammad Ali, who gave us this gem among his numerous inspirational quotes: "I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'" When we watch feats of athletic excellence, we watch the culmination of suffering and the birth of a champion.
Success as Personal
Some of the greatest sports stories remind us that we can be our own biggest opponents. Rudy Ruettiger has been made famous through the film Rudy. He was a short, dyslexic kid in a huge family. His dream was to play on Notre Dame's Fighting Irish football team. First though, he had to get into Notre Dame itself by taking two years of credits from a local college.