Is arrogance obligatory in top sportsmen?
It’s an insidious belief that arrogance is justifiable, perhaps even acceptable in the realm of sport. But how much pride in an individual or team is vital to success?
Every sport has at least a few high-profile personalities who are heavily conceited in their approach both on and off the field, but does this quality portray the athlete as being self-assured of his/her ability or haughty? It’s a close call indeed.
It’s quite bizarre that while arrogance is considered a negative trait in society, it is looked upon as a constructive element in the dynamics of success in sport.
Or is it?
There are numerous instances that relate to some form of arrogance in sport and here’s a select few. Read on and I will leave it to you to decide whether arrogance is necessary or not for a sustained period of success in sport.
According to former Port Adelaide Coach, Mark Williams, “Every team or individual must have a touch of arrogance to win and it’s a fine line as to whether you go too far”.
One can’t deny the fact that the King of Dash, Usain Bolt, has galvanised the sense of speed on the track with his dominance and aura but while some consider his now-familiar boisterous victory lap over-the-top and insulting to his peers, some love it.
One of the finest talents in football, Cristiano Ronaldo, is looked upon as arrogance personified. He has been accused on several occasions of not joining in celebrations when the team scores a goal. Moreover, he considers himself the alpha male.
A genius of a player, Eric Cantona, with the upturned collar, the swagger and the look-how-good-I-am goal celebrations all smacked of a unique form of pretentiousness. One of the finest coaches ever, Jose Mourinho, is in a class of his own not just on the basis of results on the pitch but also the inimitable manner in which he vents his thoughts and conducts press conferences before a huge game.
This is what F1 ace Lewis Hamilton has said in the past, “I have been a racing driver since I was eight years old and I know pretty much every single manoeuvre in the book, and that’s why I’m the best at my job”.
The pre-match Haka of the New Zealand rugby team is seen by many as arrogant and unfair in the rugby world. While the All Blacks team hurl abuses at the opposition, tradition dictates that the opposing team has to remain motionless and make no form of reply. This led the British press to label the haka as a ‘self-important bore and an instrument of the worst kind of sporting arrogance’.
What do you think about the few instances mentioned here? Is it confidence that’s on show or arrogance?
However, it goes without saying that without the presence of volatile personalities such as Bolt and Mourinho, sport would be dull and far too predictable.
Moving on, on the flip side, there are also several successful sportsmen who haven’t had to resort to a conceited approach throughout their stellar careers – Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist, Rafael Nadal and Rahul Dravid, to name a few.
Now, this throws up yet another question. Does the display of arrogance come naturally to a person, or is it ‘manufactured’ to send a strong message to opponents and peers?
Again, is it essential for success in sport?
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