Arrogance in sport

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March 17th, 2010 Aabhas Sharma

When Michael Jordan was a rookie, a coach reprimanded him for being too selfish and not passing the ball to his team-mates. He told Jordan, “Always remember Michael, there’s no ‘I’ in a team.” Jordan casually replied, “But there’s an ‘I’ in a win”. Arrogance is a great asset to have if you can actually pull it off by delivering results. Jordan, of course, did it with aplomb.
Arrogance is something which is always frowned upon in almost all walks of life but more so in sport. Very often we are told that what separates the great athletes from the greatest is the humility. Sachin Tendulkar is a great example of this. As is Lionel Messi. But then Diego Maradona didn’t have it. Muhammad Ali stayed far away from it. And yet they were loved despite being quite cocky. And because they were better than the others, they had the right to be arrogant. They played to the gallery, gave quotable quotes and were loved by one and all for that eccentric streak. Pete Sampras was often called boring as is Roger Federer. They are diplomatic, politically correct and say the right things at the right time. For me, it’s always better to have that arrogant streak in a champion as it certainly adds spice to the sport.

Like tennis, I feel is full of good guys, showing tremendous amount of respect for each other and more so to Federer. There’s nothing wrong in that and yes, he deserves to be respected and applauded but it would be good if there was an added edge like there was when John Mcenroe and Jimmy Connors were rivals. Or like Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were rivals in F1 in the ‘90’s. Legend has it that once Prost was stopped by a traffic cop for speeding and the cop actually told him on his face, “Who do you think you are? Ayrton Senna?” Needless to say, this added fuel to the blazing rivalry the two drivers shared. Both were cocky and arrogant and let no opportunity go by to prove how one was better than the other.

Michael Schumacher, back in Formula One at the age of 41 faces an interesting few months ahead. In his heyday, Schumacher was the epitome of arrogance. He didn’t care too much about his rivals and all he wanted was to win at all costs. He will never win a popularity contest for sure! Arrogance is something which is needed in a sportsman. Not that Federer, Tendulkar and Messi don’t have it. It’s just that they keep it under check. Does that make them boring? As a prominent sports writer had once said, “Brilliance can never be boring, in whatever form it might come.” But then again when you see Sreesanth or Andre Nel showing arrogance, you can understand why it is a quality which irks most people.

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2 Responses to “Arrogance in sport”

  1. Carrera GT Says:

    You are right that arrogance does bring some more entertainment into the game like Senna/Prost of Connors/McEnroe…but what is missing these days is the talent to back that arrogance up…what players in this generation forget is that only arrogance will not take them far…first they need to hone their skill and reach a level where their arrogance is tolerated

  2. Karan A Says:

    I think arrogance within is more important than just to display. The former will always keep an individual motivated and push him to drive towards success without stopping. It will help him raise the bar, set the standards. Federer, Tendulkar and Messi have shown true characters.

    When you display arrogance, you tend to attract lot of attention, which might deviate an inividual from the real objective.


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