Sunday, December 19, 2010
The Swim Across America website displays the following quote from Michael Phelps:
"You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get."
This is the kind of pablum that athletes typically spout when they think that the main reason for their own success is superior character.
Nonsense like this actually does a disservice to the average youngster, because when that youngster falls short of his goals, he will feel all the more diminished.
The people most likely to listen to Phelps' advice are young swimmers. How likely is it that if only they dream more, they, too, will grow to be six feet three inches with a wingspan of six feet seven inches and a freakishly long torso, and have size fourteen feet, abnormally flexible ankles, loose muscles, large hands, and a high testosterone level?
Yep. A little more dreaming, that's all it takes.
This is not to disparage Phelps' work ethic: he worked extremely hard at swimming up until 2008. But there are plenty of other swimmers who worked equally hard, but had nowhere near the same success.
Phelps is young, and he probably figures that's the sort of thing he's expected to say to encourage young kids. To some extent, he's right. But there must be a way to encourage them that doesn't make you sound like Joel Osteen.