Recently, I have been admiring the talents and achievements of some of the most successful athletes in the world of sport. Take for instance, Rafa Nadal, Tiger Woods, Usain Bolt, Rory McIlroy, Phil Taylor. These sportsmen have been truly incredible in their sports and continue to break records every year on their own. However, how alone are they in their success? Has “individual” sport become a team game?
There are many reasons why you would want to pick an individual sport over a team sport. One’s success is completely dependent on one’s own efforts. Independent and self-reliant. The idea of being the only one in the spotlight; you can’t hide behind team-mates and that can make you feel like Hercules. Or it can go the other way and make you wish to disappear. It requires incredible discipline, you haven’t got your team to force you to go to the gym. It’s in your own hands. You need to be mentally tough. If you are having an off day, you can’t look to the likes of Messi or Rooney to give you inspiration. In the past few decades though, I reckon individual sports have shifted closer towards a team effort. Gone are the days when a top sprinter or tennis player has to book his own flights or cook his own meals. These athletes are supported in every way imaginable and may be the reason why records continue to be broken.
Let’s just have a look at McIlroy and these thoughts are only off the top of my head and not set in stone. He has taken the golf world by storm in recent years (Let’s forget 2013 for his sake, he was too busy playing with all his new free gear and watching tennis matches) at his very young age. Firstly, we have the caddy as with all golfers. After that you can be sure he has his own: coaches, physios, fitness trainer, managers, chef, private jet and pilot, house-maid, chaffeur, sponsors, photographers and many more. You are looking at at least 10 people that are fully employed to making this man perform at his optimum in his individual sport. They may get an ‘aul mention in his victory speech and a healthy salary, but aren’t they the real champions aswell? Everything has been laid out on a plate for him and allows him to focus solely on improving his game. This is why I have a lot of respect for any records that stand in individual sports from 3o years ago and more. It was more individual. Athletes used to have to worry about getting track time or being able to use the tennis courts. Our sports stars of today have it easy.
I am not for one second saying that these athletes are not talented, because they clearly are. I am just highlighting the fact that having a great professional team behind you can make your job a lot easier. When it comes to the performance on the court/track/course it is only you out there. Nevertheless, you can go out there with the confidence that you have prepared for every obstacle in the best way possible due to the help of your “backroom” team.
So here is to hoping that the 135 members of the European Ryder Cup team can achieve success in Scotland come September