Sports fans and casual observers alike have a soft heart for those that have reached the summit in their particular sport. Names such as Rocky Marciano, Carl Lewis, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Joe Montana are firmly etched in the minds and hearts of men.
Lessons from Sports Icons
Still more examples, the achievements of a Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, or Lance Armstrong transcend their individual fields. Their actions in the arena, character, fierce determination, and “whatever it takes” attitude transcend sports. These men provide individuals with examples and lessons for life.
The highest virtues displayed in the struggle - toward efforts that produce societal good, are critical for the thriving and prosperity of mankind. Jordan's determination in consistently scoring 40+ points per game, while being double- or tripled-team, is applicable to a scientist, somewhere in a lab, looking for advances in cancer research, while being stymied due to a lack of funding or resistance from colleagues and peers.
Jordan: the man who failed to make the basketball team as a sophomore in high school.
Ali's "can do" and exceedingly confident attitude to defeat opponents such as Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston, and George Foreman, is an inspiration applicable to a public school teacher driven to stretch the intellectual horizons of students. Or applicable to a new Marine 2nd lieutenant headed for Iraq.
Lance Armstrong: cursed with cancer, rose to become the best ever in the field of cycling.
Legends and Human Potential
These icons, through their actions - like the famous kings and warriors from antiquity, transcend sports. They provide a template for what should be common man's attitude toward his own life, in his own society, in his own time period. They show what’s possible and shattered previous notions of human limitations. Their lives reveal something about human potentiality that each of us – individually – have yet to discover (about our own self).
In General Douglas MacArthur's farewell speech to West Point, "Duty, Honor, Country," he eloquently describes for us what it can be like for an adventurer to heed a rallying cry, and to pursue a worthy goal.
"They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm, but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future, yet never neglect the past; to be serious, yet never take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness; the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
They give you a temperate will, a quality of imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life."
Today, as in ancient times, we erect public monuments that immortalize everything these mythical legends have revealed about the human spirit.
Manny Pacquiao certainly has attained the level of heroism in his native Philippines. He is on the verge of attaining this same threshold on the global stage. Floyd Mayweather, with a resounding victory, can begin to answer once and for all, that he was right all along. That he possesses the kind of skills that no other boxer has, a convincing rebuttal to critics.
Pacquiao vs. Mayweather provides not just answers. Pacquiao vs. Mayweather IS an answer - on a plethora of levels.
Transcendence into Everyday Life
The accumulated benefits, life examples, displays of courage and honor, showmanship, pride and determination; the inspiration that swell up with young and old alike; the reach into the forgotten corners of the globe, the idea that man controls his own destiny in his hands. These are societal inflection points. They allow pent up questions, musings, and frustrations to be collectively burst upon the grandest stage, a collective blow up that brings "balance" to all involved, after the eventuality.
Thrilla in Manila transcended boxing - it was a prize fight that caused each common man to self-reflect on his own unique Apotheosis. Conservatism or Progressivism? Tradition or the New? Game 7 between Magic and Bird transcended basketball because each one had reason to pause, and reflect on Flash vs. Humility. Showmanship vs. Teamwork. Transformational events pose questions regarding boxing and prize fighting. True. Should it not occur, the magnitude of the effect also transcend boxing.
We will never know something about ourselves.
This fall, we cannot explore the infinite graces of loyalty to one's country, of the intrinsic value of giving to others. We, ultimately as human brothers and sisters, are all connected by a common thread. Each of us may not fully comprehend, nor is there a requirement to. In our obsessive following of Pacquiao and Mayweather, we ARE, through that indispensable link, LIVING through their lives. Pacquiao is the Hero archetype. Mayweather is the Child and Trickster archetype. The archetype lives, resides, is permanently embedded WITHIN each and every one of us. It is in our collective unconscious. We harbor the archetypes, it is a matter of whether we live it through and through - it is a matter of whether or not what we have on the inside, materializes on the outside world.
Pacquiao vs. Mayweather on the outside world, through that mysterious ethereal link, is a battle within us. Which archetype within us dominates more. "The world is within me." We have searched for these answers in our waking ours, in our conversations with ourselves - when we look in the mirror, at night in our dreams.
Do we pursue a heroic adventure, for the common good? Do I become resolute in the face of trials? What benefits shall I provide for my brothers or sisters?
Or do we pursue material goods, money, glory, fame?
For the benefit of others? Or for our own benefit?
These questions, born from the archetypes, of the less understood ether, are forced upon us. "A life unexamined is a life not worth living," said Socrates. Transcendent events, in this case, is a collision of two distinct prize fighters carrying two distinct philosophies. Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, the brutal match, reformulates pound for pound rankings on magazines. It can be an entrance to boxing's Parthenon. This fight, as a transcendent inflection point, help each of us come to grips with our own selves, how we in our own way define life success or failure.