This post is comprised of different thoughts I've had while watching the World Baseball Classic and UEFA Champions League. Oh, and if you can guess what cartoon my title comes from, you win a cookie. I'm not saying what it is because I could possibly be ashamed of the cheesiness of it all. Who cares, it fits.
When you play a sport, what do you play for? Honor? Pride? Dignity, perhaps? What measures will you take in order to be the very best? Will you play fair or play dirty? These are the questions an athlete might not only ask on a minor scale, but on the international level. On the international stage, your talents will be put on display, and your reputation will be watched by citizens of your home country as well as citizens of participating countries around the world. Will your patriotic justice be left at the front door, or is it going to lead you to victory?
These are the kinds of things you take into consideration when you see an athlete either represent his or her country or when they are playing with their home team against a team from a completely different league. You will see different forms of discipline, style, and commitment on display. When you play against different teams or play with guys from different leagues, it's like you had originally learned how to drive a car with automatic shift and now you need to learn how to drive a stick shift. Styles really clash, as does the overall atmosphere of play when it comes to international tournaments or friendly matches. Another key word I'd like to use in this instance is "honor." The sport could have a completely different way of being honored in a country. While it may be a religion to some in one country, it could be taken more seriously and fervently in another. It might be all fun and games to you, but it could be someone else's passion and primary priority.
The amount of commitment you make toward the team and your teammates will truly make a difference in playing the sport. Heck, if you face a club teammate on the other team, wouldn't that also give you an edge and added knowledge as well? Commit to it! The whole purpose of commitment is to remain faithful to what you have learned and also building more upon your knowledge along the way. It's a pretty nice way to go, if I do say so myself. The level of that goes to show how much your care about your sport, the way your country supports you, and your overall love of self. Not in the selfish way, of course, but in how you're thankful for the privileges you've been given. I know I would want to make the most out of playing for Team USA in something, so I would want to be at my best and show as much heart as I possibly can. You wouldn't want to throw something like this by the wayside. Hey, I would even do this for free, come to think about it, but there might be that one case where someone disagrees with me...
There's also a different level of discipline when playing for your country. Some countries may have more honor than others, while others may be more liable to starting fights against the other team in defense of a player. Of course, one's pride may be on the line, and the way disagreements are handled will vary from person to person. With that said, however, there's also the case of sportsmanship and how well you handle yourself among your teammates and your opponents. One player on another team might absolutely hate your guts and will work to great length to see you break your face on the field, but the question you must ask is whether you should turn the other cheek or fight fire with fire. While it might be a joy for fans to watch you beat the total snot out of the opposition, one must check oneself before one wrecks oneself. Wrecking as in overall image and well...the possible loss of your dignity in a ridiculously stupid manner. Sure, it might be common sense, but when you're angry, who has time to think? Discipline, people.
I have seen the best and the worst of athletes in these tournaments, and while it might not fully display their character or their work ethic, it's a pretty good indicator of what direction they're taking with their respective careers. They could be good, but they may see this as a self-promotional opportunity instead of a chance representing one's country. I shouldn't be one to judge, so I'll leave those things up for later interpretation.
When it comes to justice and liberty, sports can really show one's true colors or a team's feeling of union, I suppose. I like that. Don't we all?