Are sports heroes necessary for young athletes to succeed?
In a 2017 Denver Post interview, Kirk Dwyer of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, stated that “the key to any sport is having heroes…”. If left alone, this statement has the potential for a debatable message. John Meyer. Denver Post, 3/16/17 http://www.denverpost.com/2017/03/12/ski-club-vail-kids-watch-mikaela-shiffrin-training/
In my research, I found it best to view a superstar as an inspiration instead of a hero. Making a great athlete into a hero immediately puts the young up and coming athlete a step behind. It allows for the mindset that there will always be someone better. Or worse, it creates a desire for the young athlete to copy or want to “be like” their hero.
The best way for a young ski racer to view a superstar like Mikaela Shiffrin is to think: “If she can do it, so can I”. Or “If she can do it, I can do it better”. Let the Shiffrins of the ski racing world show every young budding ski racer what is possible.
Next, while Mikaela has certainly many wonderful qualities to emulate, there is only one Mikaela. People who succeed in life and sport must have their own personality and approach to living and competing. There is that old saying: “A copy is never as good as the original”.
While Mikaela makes skiing look easy, she has put in many years of extraordinary effort to reach the very top. Perhaps the strongest message or messages, for an aspiring ski racer are those which are not so obvious? To start, the very best in sport are extremely dedicated and focused on their goals. Their entire life is organized around doing what it takes to win. They are supremely committed to becoming the very best and will let nothing get in their way.