MAX Blog

The Highest Reward

The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.
— John Ruskin

The majority of my life has revolved around sports. I would set goals and "five-year plans" based upon upcoming tournaments and Olympic dreams. I sacrificed proms and Friday night dates for training and traveling. I lived on strict meal plans, eating schedules, and had to wait until after the State Championship each year to enjoy my birthday cake. But with all the medals and accolades I received to reward my efforts, none compared to what sports did for me mentally and physically.

Six months ago, I handed six of our martial arts students a folder. In this folder contained everything they would need to know and accomplish by the Black Belt Test. For years they had been working towards this ultimate goal, and now the reality of achieving their black belt was within their grasp. For the next six months they had daily fitness requirements, community service, monthly prep classes and physical assessments, all in addition to their normal training regimen. 

Over time, they began to change. They became faster. They became stronger. They answered questions with confidence and were motivated to go above and beyond what was expected of them. They were already champions in their sport, but now they were becoming leaders. 

This past weekend, all six tested for their black belts. They made improvements of over a minute on their mile times, destroyed their previous push up numbers, and made significant increases in their flexibility, and that was just the Fitness Test. The actual Black Belt Test itself was five hours long and pushed them to their physical and mental limits... but none of them broke. I could not have done it better myself, and my heart overflowed with joy as I gave them their new black belts. 

Maybe they won't realize it now, but their reward for many years of dedication and hard work is not what lies around their is what that belt represents, it is what they have become. 

To accomplish anything worthwhile takes commitment, perseverance, ambition, patience, blood, sweat, and tears. Be proud of all your hard work and the steps it took to get where you are today. But remember to look beyond the promotion at work, the number on the scale, or the shiny trophy, for the person you become during the journey is your highest reward.

Hey Mayweather- Where is the Greatness?

With great power comes great responsibility.
— Voltaire

If you came here to read about how the fight was boring, how you wasted $100, how Pacquiao was cheated, or how Mayweather just ran around, then you have come to the wrong place. To be honest, I did not even watch the fight. I was in bed by 9. No, my problems with the fight came way before they touched gloves.

The boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was to be the "Fight of the Century." I can see that. Match up two incredibly talented athletes, both with stellar records, add a lot of hype, and even more money and you have a battle for greatness! Wait....greatness? 

When did the standard of greatness become so low? Greatness used to mean something. The term was given to people who went above and beyond their everyday profession and used their talents to better others, not just themselves. If Winston Churchill was alive today, I guarantee Justin Bieber would have twice as many followers as him on Twitter. It seems the true "great ones" of today are lost in our media-driven society filled with cheating scandals and reality TV. 

Sadly, money rules, sex sells, and there is no such thing as bad publicity. Which brings me to Saturday's winner, Floyd Mayweather. His history of domestic violence, which extends over a dozen years, did not hurt the hype of the fight, did not deter his sponsors, and did not effect his payout. Not at all. During the days leading up to the fight and, of course, during the actual fight itself, my news feeds were cluttered with winner predictions, punch by punch updates, and disagreements over the results.

Is it just me or does anyone else think it is ridiculous that our society idolizes a man who displays no moral value or integrity and also financially supports a sports organization that condones such behavior. With greatness comes responsibility. So, if Mayweather is our generation's version of greatness then he better step up!

One of my dearest friends summed it up so perfectly:

"I completely agree that with greatness should come responsibility, especially to the kids that look up to you. I could care less about the athletic ability of any sports figure who doesn't comport him or herself in a way that is, at the very least, not harmful to kids. That's why I like Tebow despite the pummeling he gave my Seminoles throughout my undergrad years at FSU, and that's also why my dislike of Michael Vick was one of the reasons I chose to pursue a career in law. But of course, I blame the organization as much as I blame the players in many instances. Higher moral standards should be required of every athlete and it would be nice if the organizations that took on these players while they are still kids provided more support to help them manage the fame and fortune."

I guess it is not fair for me to compare today's most influential persons to that of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, or Mother Teresa. But is it too much to ask that you use your God-given talent to better someone or something other than yourself? Billie Jean King, winner of 38 Grand Slam titles, also battled for women equality. Pele, winner of three World Cups, is also an advocate of overcoming poverty.

I am a firm believer in second chances. Mayweather's opponent, Pacquiao, was no angel himself. He admits to a past life of drinking, gambling, and women. Nowadays, you will most likely hear him share his testimony of how the Lord changed his life or how he one day aspires to becoming the President of the Philippines. He also financially supports his homeland's hungry and homeless, and the building of schools and hospitals. Now that is how you use your talent for good.

Mayweather, you are the undisputed champion. Your talent is evident and your impact on society is apparent. You have the show some responsibility. Make a difference.