Did you catch the NHL All-Star weekend festivities? I loved it all. Not just because I am a huge fan of hockey, but because I am also a fan of the human spirit. Sure, there were some amazing examples of just why these guys are masters at their craft. I certainly would never volunteer to stand in front of a Shea Weber slapshot no matter how much padding I had on. And Evgeny Kuznetzov, the Wizard of Washington, is a delight to watch as he snakes around and through crowds to put an exclamation point on an impossible pass.
I was more interested, though, in the personal stories that emerged from this year's celebration. The most obvious was that of John Scott, underdog fan favorite who, despite urging the fans to "vote for my teammates," won a place on the coveted roster. Within two weeks of that news, he got word he was being traded from Arizona to Montreal. Montreal immediately sent him down to the minors. No stranger to such abrupt changes, Scott handled it like a true professional. The NHL, however, was conflicted. How could he compete at the All-Stars now, and as a team captain, no less? In the end, Scott was allowed to join in. He not only joined, he shined. He scored two goals and emerged as MVP of the game. Fans adored him, even his fellow all-stars cheered and encouraged him. They hoisted his huge frame (about 7' tall on skates) on their shoulders, as he beamed. If you're interested in Scott's account of events leading up to the game, read the article he wrote for the Players Tribune, "A Guy Like Me." It's both touching and inspiring.
Young fans everywhere should take notice of the sportsmanship on display. The fact that all of these egos were able to play nice together is encouraging. One player remarked when asked about the $1 million prize for the winning team, "I don't think any of the guys are playing for the money. It's a pride thing." I can believe that; surely none of these guys are hurting for pocket change. Pride is a powerful motivator. To be a superstar, you must take pride in all you do, in the way you prepare, the effort you give in practice, the devotion to the game and to your teammates. Pride allows you to be confident you are performing at your best at all times. You won't allow yourself anything less.
John Scott should feel proud of how he handled himself. He was rewarded for his humility, his effort and determination to prove that he deserved to play alongside the best in the league. Even if only for the weekend. But for now, that is all that mattered.
"Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."
Personal Best Sports
The sports world is filled with stories of perseverance, failure and success, personal struggles and public triumph. Each story provides insight into the mental side of sport and activity.