Competing and Entertaining

If you think about it, professional sports are a form of entertainment. Professional leagues only exist because fans pay to be entertained. This makes athletes entertainers. But this isn't the only ways to look at sports. Sports are also competitions, where players compete against each other to win rewards and to have fun. Some people only care about the competition aspect of sports, and have no concern about entertaining fans. Whereas other people care more about the entertainment aspect and care less about winning the competition. This is an important topic, because your attitude on competition and entertainment and how you value them greatly affect your performance, motivation, and mental health.

Here are reasons why you should play to entertain:
It can selfish just to play for yourself and your own personal success (winning trophies/money). If this is all that you care about, you will use the most efficient playing style in order to win. This however, can be boring and not fun to watch. You may win, but fans may not find you entertaining. A good example of this kind of athlete is Floyd Mayweather Jr. Floyd mastered defensive boxing, but his fights weren't that fun to watch. You can argue whether athletes should be more entertaining or not. Athletes have the right to choose how to play. If they want to play as efficiently as possible, even if this means they're boring, that's fine. I also have the right to call them selfish for doing this.

I respect the athletes that take the risk to be more entertaining, even if this hurts their efficiency. Nick Kyrgios, the tennis player, and Kobe Bryant are examples of these athletes. Kyrgios does many trick shots, antics, and celebrations, which captivates fans. Kobe respected fans by playing almost every game. He felt a duty to entertain the fans who paid to go see him, so he suited up every game, even when he wasn't 100% physically.

This sense of duty to serve others by entertaining them is one of the best motivations you can have. This is the main reason why I promote entertainment as a motive. Being a professional athlete can be exhausting emotionally. Sometimes you feel burned out and uninspired to reach your goals of winning. That's why it's good to have an extra motive in your arsenal. If you're lacking motivation, you can choose to play to entertain others. If you're not willing to work hard for yourself, you'll do it to make others happy. Knowing that you made fans happy and gave them memories for the rest of their lives is very motivating. This shouldn't always be your main motivation, but it should definitely be a part of your motivational arsenal.

Here are reasons why you shouldn't use entertainment as your only motivation. Only wanting to entertain would cause you to try to play in the most entertaining way possible. In tennis, you'd do many trick shots. In basketball, you'd shoot way too many long threes and attempt way too many ally-oops. In football, you'd do too many trick plays and long throws. This makes your game very inefficient, which leads to losing. Your opponents, who play a more boring and efficient style will beat you. Not only does losing hurt you competitively and leads to you getting weeded out of pro sports, but it is also not fun for the fans. Fans don't just watch to be entertained. They also want their team to win. Seeing their team win is entertaining for fans, but winning for a fan is also a separate reward. Some fans just want their team to win. They don't care how boring they are, but ideally their team is successful and entertaining.

Also, even if you play just to win, you'll still be entertaining to a certain extent. Mayweather may not be the most exciting boxer to watch, but people still tune in to watch his fights. Watching sports performed at their highest level is still entertaining no matter how little the athletes care about entertaining.

So my advice is to balance these two motivations. Obviously, you need to play to win, but this shouldn't be your only motivation. You should also play to entertain fans. Perhaps you should care more about competing, and care a little less about entertaining. Like I said, playing just to entertain is no good. Your main goal should be to compete to win, but you should know how and when to entertain. If you have match point in a tennis match, you obviously shouldn't go for a trick shot. But in less important times in games, you should be willing to entertain the crowd. Also, you should give your best effort, even if you have no shot at wining, out of respect for the fans. If you balance these two motivations correctly, your performance, motivation, and overall satisfaction with sports should improve.

Here is a good quote from Villanova basketball coach, Jay Wright that got me thinking about this topic:
"Players play for their teammates and coaches; actors play for the crowd." This is a good quote with a good message, but I believe the best athletes play to win AND to entertain.

Let me know what you think about this topic. How much should athletes value competition compared to entertainment?

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