In the world of professional sports, virtually every athlete is a part of a team. Some share the field with the athlete, but most ‘team-mates’ reside on the sideline. I am always amazed and energized when a professional athlete sets aside their personal goals and puts their team-mates first. Recently, Egan Bernal, the winner of the 2019 Tour de France has said that he will put his team before himself in the upcoming 2020 Tour. Of course he wants to win the Tour. He has said so, but his team comes first. I cannot fathom the humility of putting such lofty personal goals behind his team’s goals. To set aside the money, the fame, and the accolades because his teammates are more important is an incredible statement of Bernal’s personality.
I have never met Egan Bernal. His true nature could be vastly different than what we see as his public image. To some extent, I suppose we will find out in a few weeks when the Tour begins. For now, I’m extremely impressed and hope I can emulate such humility.
In my case, I’m an amateur. Always have been and always will be. My sports of choice are mostly an individual event. In triathlons, assistance can neither be given nor received during the race. But anyone who has competed in 10ks, marathons, triathlons or any other ‘individual’ sport will tell you that a ‘team’ is critical.
For me, that team is my family, my circle of friends and my training partners. All of these wonderful people have endured dinners delayed by my long training rides, hospital visits due to crashes or yellow jackets (see my June 13 blog), complaints of sore muscles, and hours of what must be boring talks about splits or intervals.
Without my team, I wonder if I would have accomplished as much as I have or learned the lessons I have experienced. I seriously doubt it.
I suspect Bernal and I share that sentiment.
For every one of my experiences or lessons, there is usually someone standing next to me; figuratively or literally. Or perhaps I should say “there is someone leading me or someone pushing me”. Parents, spouse, children, friends; everyone has contributed to my sporting experiences. I’m just a guy doing what he enjoys and I do it to the best of my ability. My sports experiences are a series of personal journeys that may not have a direct impact on the world, but by framing my personality on those lessons learned, I am a better manager at work, a better father or husband at home, or a more committed friend.
What lessons have you learned along the way? Perhaps more importantly, who have been those people who stood beside you while you learned them? Have you reached out told them how much you appreciate their help or guidance? Regardless of this year’s Tour, I will bet that Bernal and his teammates will be congratulating whoever wins and the winner will be thanking his teammates.