Honorable Mention: Shoulders of Giants

by Ray Lu | 5/21/18 2:05am

In the world of sports, athletes often retire well past their prime, which only makes sense as ultra-competitive individuals struggle to deal with the decline of their abilities. Thankfully, this column avoids that awkward dilemma by never having had a prime in the first place. We’re not going out on top, per se, but we are most certainly going out.

Welcome my final “sports” “column” at The Dartmouth. It’s only fitting that the final edition of “Honorable Mention” comes on the heels of my last Green Key. Something something lemons, something something lemonade. 

High school athletics, Dartmouth intramural sports and movies have taught me all I know, which is to say I know very little. More importantly, I give you hastily-aggregated post-Green Key lessons and reflections in the form of quotes from the world of athletics, both real and imaginary — call it going out on the shoulders of giants.

“You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” -Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in “Rocky”

Is this a cop-out? Most certainly. I’ll admit I didn’t watch “Rocky” until my sophomore fall, but that’s sure better than the fact that I own “Hoosiers” on Blu-ray and have never unwrapped the disc. “Rocky” is timeless, not just for the grit, grind and determination in Stallone’s character but also for the unlimited number of sequels over the years. If 12 hours and 45 minutes of runtime doesn’t guarantee immortality, maybe one more sequel in the form of “Creed II” will.

“The inability to envision a certain kind of person doing a certain kind of thing because you’ve never seen someone who looks like him do it before is not just a vice. It’s a luxury. What begins as a failure of the imagination ends as a market inefficiency: when you rule out an entire class of people from doing a job simply by their appearance, you are less likely to find the best person for the job.” -Michael Lewis in “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game”  

There are a million and two memorable quotes in both the original Michael Lewis book and the movie — because, after all, “how can you not be romantic about baseball?” 

Attempting to quantify the world of sports, where a unique blend of entertainment and moral lessons keeps us coming back for more, is attractive because it’s as close as we feel like we can get to objectively measuring life’s intangibles. Reading “Moneyball” as a class assignment in QSS 30.01, “Sports Analytics” was the first time I recognized a real world application of what I learned in school. 

“Trying to be the best, failing, getting back up. Those characteristics are going to allow you to make great decisions. They are going to allow you to compete. They are going to allow you achieve your best. That’s the American dream.” -Ronnie Lott in “The Boomer List” museum exhibit

In Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ “The Boomer List,” Lott — who was named to 10 Pro Bowls, won four Super Bowls and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 — summarizes the lessons learned growing up in a defining time in American history. He also decided to amputate the tip of his finger in 1985 in order to get back on the football field faster. If that’s not the stuff legends are made of, I don’t know what is.

“Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and rent is due every day.” - J.J. Watt

Yes, J.J. Watt might try a little too hard to be a real-life superhero — there are several quotes from the defensive end that sound more like action movie soundbites than words humans would say — but that’s not to say that he doesn’t mean well. His charity work, especially after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas last year, speaks for itself. Besides, you don’t win three Defensive Player of the Year awards by sleeping in.

“Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” –“The Sandlot”

Cavs over Warriors in seven.