There is little doubt that sport is a cruel master. There is the rough and the tumble, the daily grind of training, the Coach always breathing down your neck, the ups and downs of performances, the resultant frustrations and what have you. A career in any sport can be very, very trying. But it teaches you to face life front on.
‘Quitters never win and winners never quit’ is an oft-repeated cliché in the world of sports. But a top class athlete, who may have won several gold medals at the Olympics, will tell you that he or she may have thought about quitting sport very often during his or her short career. The real winners are the ones who carry on despite the urge to bag it all and lead a nice cushy life away from the frustrations of sport.
Quitting at the right time is what sport – and life – is all about. Look at Sunil Gavaskar who retired from first class cricket when he was at his peak. Having scored 34 test hundreds, he could have easily gone on for another two or three years. But he quit, as Vijay Merchant – another great cricketer - would say, “ When people ask why and not why not”. And just to prove that he was not finished, he turned up for a World Eleven versus England match at Lord’s after retirement and scored a big hundred! What the L’il Master did was clear thinking. He had performed well over two decades and had to think of an alternate career. Not only did he walk out with his head held high but also succeeded in his business ventures, and as a media person. He is now a respected elder statesman of the game and serves on the ICC committee.
Those who leave sport for any other reason are quitters. Sport is one road where there will be potholes all along the way. You may fall into them once in a while. It’s tough getting up and continuing as if nothing has happened. Your friends may laugh at you and your coach may abuse you and put you off. You may have self-doubts; you may wonder if you are good enough. Your parents could be telling you to quit and concentrate on your scholastic career. If you have the passion for your sport and want to be the best, then you will have to face all these frustrations and doubts and rise above them. These aren’t reasons enough to quit!
If you look up sporting history you will find thousands of stories of athletes braving disasters of all sort and coming up trumps. They are the real heroes. Besides being applauded by the sporting world, the memory of that one outstanding performance will give the athletes a lifetime of confidence. If they had quit at the wrong time, the memory of giving up could have led them to live a life of regret, hiding their faces in shame.
It’s fine if you have valid reasons to quit, with an alternate career in which you will be happier. But to quit just because you are not making headway in your chosen sport or because the road to success is laden with rocks is cowardice. Having faced all the obstacles and coming out a loser, and knowing in your heart of hearts that you tried your best can help you gain self confidence and help you become a success elsewhere. It’s not always about winning, but how you played the game. Sport teaches you not only how to succeed in life, but also to face failures.
So, the next time you think about quitting sport, think twice and then … don’t quit!