The benefits of sport are many, but the main goal is to win, whether the competition is with oneself or with an opponent. If you want to win, there are three critical keys to being a consistent champion. These three keys included the Triangle of the Championship. They are: 1. Intelligence, 2. Strength, 3. Skill. Simply put, champions are smart, strong and expert.
Champions must be smart. They must think. The fight is between the ears, that is, in the head, the mind, the brain. A warrior with strength and skill but no intelligence will lose to a more intelligent adversary. Champions win not so much by strength but by brains. An army without a command center is not an army at all. How many times in the world of competitive athletics, whether at the amateur or professional level, have players or teams lost solely because of a stupid, stupid act in the final moments of competition? The annals of sports are awash with teams that lost due to lack of intelligence.
Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese warlord of 2,500 years ago, in his epic, The Art of War declares: War is a serious concern of the state. Must be thoroughly studied. First, notice that it says that warfare (peaceful or not, as in competitive athletics) is to be studied. Studying means using the mind and all its faculties. Notice that Sun Tzu does not say that warfare is primarily based on physical characteristics, ie muscle and strength. It is based on the mind. Note, too, that he makes the categorical point that war must not only be studied but thoroughly studied. Think of all the great coaches in any sport. They were thinkers above all. The same is true for big players. They use their minds, their intelligence to ensure victory, and they use it before anything else. Therefore, to be a winning coach, player or team, the championship laurels begin in the head with the use of active and imaginative intelligence.
Many athletes can equate strength alone with physical progress. Not so. What is the use of having physical progress and not being able to control it. Having strength means having discipline and self-control, as well as physical strength.
Strength comes in three types: 1. mind, 2. body, 3. spirit. We have talked about the mind. Body strength involves not only muscular power, but also physical stamina and stamina. How many contests have you lost in the final phase of a match because one team was in better shape than another? A team can have great athletes, but if they are not well prepared, they will not be consistent winners. Ultimately, players must have strength of spirit, an indomitable will that refuses to die, refuses to be defeated, refuses to buckle under the pressure of contention. A person may have a strong body and mind, but if his spirit is weak, he will eventually collapse. Similarly, an athlete may have a strong will and mind, but if his body does not have the physical strength to withstand the competition, he may fall prey to a physically stronger and more fit opponent. Therefore, when it comes to strength, the Championship Triangle of Intelligence, Strength, and Ability has an inner strength triangle of body, mind, and will.
Another aspect of strength is the control of one’s emotions. Again, how many championships have both amateurs and professionals lost because they were too weak to control their emotions and “lost” – their self-control and the game – by engaging in some idiotic action guaranteed to be gone. One has to have passion and fire to be a champion, but that passion and fire must be controlled. If players don’t control themselves and coaches don’t train their players to control their emotions, everyone is headed down the path of defeat. Warriors contain and control their emotions in the heat of battle…until the end of the battle because they know if they lose control they will lose the fight.
It goes without saying that without the skills relating to a particular sport, one cannot even play the sport, let alone win. Champions must have skills. Such skills take time, effort, discipline, control, blood, sweat, tears, struggle, and a relentless will to hone championship status in order to separate themselves from “runners-up” and “runners-up.” Those abilities are not simply technical abilities, but also include the mental and physical abilities of The Championship Triangle.
The Championship Triangle consists of 1. intelligence, 2. strength, 3. ability. In other words, champions must be elegant, strong and expert. These three components must work together in harmony. Two are not enough to create victory. Both coaches and players must imbue them… until the end. Champions exude these three characteristics at the highest level and everything else, well, it’s just the rest, at least until they also imbue these three critical components of the ultimate winner. In any sport there is only one true champion during a season. To appease people’s sensibilities, some people say that everyone is a champion just because they competed. Such sentiments not only diminish and disrespect those who truly excel and are #1 in their sport, but also reflect a growing illusion that all competitors are champions. Not so. Champions are those individuals and teams whose skill and ability to execute surpass all other competitors. So it is and so it should be. To do less, to be less, is to deny and despise what it is to be a true champion.