yes. i can admit it. i was watching this guy this weekend.
i was watching the lakers as well. i used to be one of those snooty creative types who poo pooed watching sports and was too busy reading russian novels and the new yorker to do so. but after many holidays home when i end up getting dragged into watching some champioship or other (read: if you can't beat them, join them) i realized that we artists who stay away from sports are missing out. here are ten reasons why:
- athletes under stand an element of success that we creative people often miss: discipline. and not just fiddling around with some paints every day. i am talking hours of training and devotion to their sport of choice. the level of dedication athletes bring is one that we could take over the world with in creative fields, were we to choose to emulate it.
- support. athletes have learned something we artists have claimed we are above needing: support makes success more likely. no one was more able to celebrate tiger woods pulling out a put that kept him in the open for a tiebreaker on sunday than his caddy, who is with him throughout the process, making club decisions and simply living through round after round along with him. we need community, trainers, and coaches to push us to the next level. if you were to think of your art as a sport, who would you need on your team?
- sportsmanship. we artists are not great at this one. we are known for being snipey, envious, and ultra competetive. we have few nice things to say about colleagues who beat us out for commissions. we don't generally refer people to others work. it is hard to succeed as artist. but still. hearing tiger wood's competitor who had not won a major in a number of years generously say that he saw no reason to wish for someone else to miss a shot, just moments after tiger had sunk a put that stole his win was something i found amazing to hear.
- focus. artists tend to work at weird hours, when the mood strikes, totally alone. athletes have to show up when the match is scheduled and perform. they have no option to wait until they are "really feeling it" like we do. this goes along with discipline, but perhaps if we set creating matches for ourselves there would be more art to show for it.
- motivation. watching people compete in a contest is motivating. i hate to say this, because no matter how hard i try i cannot find a way to care about football. but if there is a sport that you enjoy watching- and there are many to choose from nowadays, there is a certain adrenaline to the process. try this- watch a match. get fired up, then, go work on art or projects. see if this doesn't give you a bit of a lift along the way.
- cool uniforms. or, at least, gool gear and recognizable gear. while i am not suggesting we all wear sports jerseys around town- please don't- there is a certain logic to wearing work gear when one is working. perhaps a certain apron or game time outfit can be a ritual to get that novel or screenplay underway. or gving yourself permission to have a professional artist outfit will allow you to take that book to the gallery or ad agency to see if you are what they are looking for. nothing wrong with a costume. it helps actors change roles all the time.
- audience and fans. not only do athletes benefit from coaches, caddies, water boys and may other people who help them get where they need to be before the game, they have people around who desperately care how they do when they play, even though this has no bearing on their own careers or lives. imagine if people cared if you got that show, or were funded for that film? how can you build up a fan base for your work, so that people will be invested in your success along with you? we all know it is easier to promote someone else than ourselves, and that it is easier to show up when someone else is counting on us. who wants us to win and how can we engage this audience? could be quite a lift.
- huge paychecks. this would be nice to be able to ask for as creative people. we would all love to make what tiger woods does when he wins a competition or be on a salary the l.a. lakers are paid. in many ways, we can't count on this or control it. what we can do is charge what we're worth. and we can certainly learn from sports successes that humility around money is not going to take you where you want to go. go ahead. raise your rates. price your art where it should be priced. they're not sweating asking for millions, neither should we.
- health. artists are not known for being healthy or particularly balanced in their lives. more likely to drink and party until the next morning than to get beauty sleep, we creative people tend to wear out at an earlier age. and while competitive sports don't allow for athletes to play throughout their life, we could certainly do with an earlier bedtime and maybe some daily exercise. energy is a resource we need desperately, especially when we're just starting out. so don't think of partying as your daily exercise- try something a bit healthier along with it.
- drive. a little more than discipline, i think the best example we can see by watching these people do what they do best is that they want to win. they want to succeed more than anything else and will suffer through physical pain, grueling hours and essentially organize their lives around getting to that win. do we want that success that badly? if we were to apply these principles, there would be a lot more art to enjoy in this world.
so go ahead- watch the game this weekend. consider it homework. and los angeles, make sure to think good thoughts for the lakers tomorrow night- an away game in boston can be brutal without happy thoughts from fans. athletes have creative dreams, too. let's all band together and take things to the next level. perhaps they will learn more from us, too.