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Are Elite Level Performers In Every Field Obsessive

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  • Are Elite Level Performers In Every Field Obsessive

    ...And misfits? Saw that contention in an article/interview below re- a journalist who trained with an NFL team:

    http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/people/8419.html

    the excerpt:

    "...Are there similarities between pro football players and the best Scrabble players?..." (asked because Fatsis wrote a book about Scrabble experts, and became one)

    Somebody once told me that you look at anybody who does anything at an elite level and you’re going to find an obsessive misfit. And while we want to think that pro football players are cool and supremely self-confident and have the world dancing on their fingers, they’re like any other obsessive misfit.


    Do you agree the top percentile of every endeavor is occupied by onbessive misfits (including athletics)?

  • #2
    I agree. You defintely do not get to the top by doing what everyone else is doing.

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    • #3
      At first I thought the title was

      Are Elite Level Performers In Every Field Obese

      ops:
      http://twitter.com/Trackside2011

      Comment


      • #4
        If you take your average 330 pound NFL lineman, the only thing he is obsessive about is eating. Having met a couple in my lifetime (quite randomly), there was no other extraordinary trait.

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        • #5
          I agree and almost put something up like this on the Lance Armstrong post. Armstrong is a very unpalatable person, when you meet him, from everything I've heard (do not know him personally). But a lot of really great athletes, and great people in a lot of fields, are like that. You almost have to be obsessive and self-centered to get that good.

          Counter-example. When I played amateur golf around the country, just before turning pro (1971-1975), the best player by far was Ben Crenshaw - by far. We all thought he would be the next Nicklaus. But Ben had a problem - he has to be the nicest, most down-to-earth superstar you could ever meet. I just don't think he was self-centered enough to dominate on the PGA Tour. I liked Tom Watson but he was a pretty intense guy, and very much too himself, with only Andy North among his close friends on tour. He probably needed to be to dominate the tour. (Some of this was mentioned during his recent British Open run). Roger Federer seems to be an exception to this rule., but I think its pretty common.

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          • #6
            Highly Focused Individuals

            in "Mr. Clutch" w/ Bill Libby, Jerome Alan West described himself as a loner, and not one to mingle w/ his teammates. West was a "family man" at the writing, but typified the dirven, competitive NBA rival to the talller, equally willfull Bill Russell. West spoke of how off-puting his game day moods were to the wife and children.

            Sportswriters who covered the S.F. Giants always described Mr. Mays as much more private, less socializing sort than the nightclubbing fan favorite Orlando Cepeda. Naturally there have been exceptions, but journalists have described some of the greatest winners of all time, in team or individual sports, as "surly" or having tunnel vision. Even "...uninteresting..." outside their expertise (think J. Montana, T. Woods).

            Yet Wilt Chamberlain was portrayed as genial and well-liked by his teammates.

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            • #7
              Is an insatiable need to be the best that of a healthy person?
              phsstt!

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              • #8
                Yes, it is very, very common for those at the elite level of any endeavor to be obsessive - you almost have to be. I think that whether those folks are pleasant to be around or not is not really related. Folks everywhere of every ability at everything can be pleasant or unpleasant to be around. It is just that in some professions you get reporters who present this aspect of a personality to the public.

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                • #9
                  Linked Traits

                  Not just Michael Jordan (or Jackson)- a Brit footballer links the two traits:

                  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/foo...ing-Speed.html

                  [i]'..."I have a theory. I believe you can link obsessive characters with elite performers. Paul Gascoigne, for instance, has spoken about obsessive compulsive disorder. I reckon that any top flight athlete must be obsessive. Some prefer to call it dedicated.
                  "I've had obsessions with collecting, I once had an obsession with weights and squatting over 200 kilos. Michael Owen texted me to tell me that he had achieved it and had done it before me. I was gutted...
                  '

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                  • #10
                    Well, there is a certain level yes. Everyone who is in that very top percentile does things that normal people would not do, some however do more than others. Everyone has a different reason for acting the way they do and working hard, working well, focusing, or whatever. The common denominator is that they all end up being good-successful at what they do. This is why there are different personalities among these people.

                    I think you would agree that it is difficult to expect top athletes to not take performance enhancing drugs when the same obsession (or whatever word you choose to use) is responsible for both them being successful and them wanting to take drugs. It takes a truly special person to be at that level and not want to take drugs in my estimation.

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                    • #11
                      Dope & Singlemindedness

                      A la Michael Jackson.

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                      • #12
                        Obsessive, yes...misfits, not necessarily.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Are Elite Level Performers In Every Field Obsessive

                          Originally posted by bijanc
                          ...And misfits? Saw that contention in an article/interview below re- a journalist who trained with an NFL team:

                          http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/people/8419.html

                          the excerpt:

                          "...Are there similarities between pro football players and the best Scrabble players?..." (asked because Fatsis wrote a book about Scrabble experts, and became one)
                          I have read 'Word Freak', and also spent a lot of time among elite Scrabble players. The problem with Fatsis's book is that he was selective in choosing the protagonists - he wove the story around just a few players, who indeed fit that description. It may have made for a better story, but it created the wrong impression that all elite players are like that, when most of them actually do have a life apart from Scrabble.
                          Było smaszno, a jaszmije smukwijne...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Highly Focused Individuals

                            Originally posted by bijanc
                            in "Mr. Clutch" w/ Bill Libby, Jerome Alan West described himself as a loner, and not one to mingle w/ his teammates. West was a "family man" at the writing, but typified the dirven, competitive NBA rival to the talller, equally willfull Bill Russell. West spoke of how off-puting his game day moods were to the wife and children.

                            Sportswriters who covered the S.F. Giants always described Mr. Mays as much more private, less socializing sort than the nightclubbing fan favorite Orlando Cepeda. Naturally there have been exceptions, but journalists have described some of the greatest winners of all time, in team or individual sports, as "surly" or having tunnel vision. Even "...uninteresting..." outside their expertise (think J. Montana, T. Woods).

                            Yet Wilt Chamberlain was portrayed as genial and well-liked by his teammates.
                            I've also heard uninteresting in relation to great athletes in their sports - driven in their sport, but with no significant other interests. A friend of mine who is the team doctor for US Davis Cup has told me Pete Sampras is like that. Great, great tennis player, and he likes him personally but not much else there.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Most top level sportsmen are pretty obsessive but there are always one or two who buck the trend. A good example that springs to mind was England batsman David Gower, who treated cricket more as a fun game than a serious endeavour.

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