1. #1
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    Default Are Athletes Born or Created?

    by Matt Weik


    For me, personally, the answer to this is a no-brainer. But there may be people out there who think differently about the subject. So, I thought it would be a cool little article to put down what my thoughts are, see if they align with yours, and open up the dialogue a little bit in the comments. Here’s what I want everyone to think about: Athletes are born or built? What say you? Below are my thoughts.


    IS THERE A RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWER?
    Everyone is welcome to have their own opinion on the topic. I have mine and I’m sure you have yours. Are they the same? Maybe, maybe not? Either way, that’s ok as I’m not here to prove anyone who disagrees with me as being wrong.


    There are some who believe that athletes are born while others believe that athletes are built. I personally haven’t seen concrete evidence or research on the topic, so I’m going to give you my opinion and what I feel the correct answer is from my experience and my own beliefs.


    ATHLETES ARE BORN OR BUILT
    I would actually categorize this the same way I would categorize if leaders or entrepreneurs are born or built. To me, in my eyes, athletes are built. Same with all of the other examples I just mentioned. When we come out of the womb, we don’t know day from night, up from down, or literally ANYTHING at that point. To say we come out blessed with certain abilities, in my opinion, is a bunch of nonsense.


    Did Michael Jordan come out with a basketball in his hand and a pair of Air Jordan’s on his feet? Did Gary Vaynerchuk come out with the ability to sell and market anything? The answer is no. So, to say that athletes are born simply does not make sense. We learn things as we grow. We experience success and failures. We are good at some things while terrible at others. As individuals, we are all different and have different strengths and weaknesses. Sure, some are blessed with amazing genetics where they grow to be over six-foot and can naturally put on more muscle mass than others (possibly due to higher natural testosterone levels). Some of us pick up on math and can see numbers differently than others. We are all unique in our own ways.


    I’m 5’9” and 200 pounds. Will I ever be a linebacker in the NFL? Probably not. Can I play football and be good at it? Sure. But to tout me as an “athlete” or “football player” would be ludicrous. So, in that sense, I cannot be “built” to be an athlete. But that doesn’t mean someone else who has better talent and genetics couldn’t be “built” into an athlete.


    WE LEARN AS WE GO
    We all learn things through simply living life. We learn to shoot a basketball. We learn to multiply. Some are better than others at each. Our lives are shaped based on our experiences and what we learn as we grow. If someone is never introduced to the game of tennis, they’ll never be a tennis player. If Pete Sampras (I’m dating myself) never picked up a tennis racquet, he’d never know what his potential would be. Nor would he have ever won so many Grand Slams if he didn’t work at his craft and shape his behaviors to allow him to be one of the best tennis players in the world.


    Do you think Phil Heath woke up at the age of three and knew he was going to be Mr. Olympia? At that age, he probably didn’t even know what bodybuilding was. So, to say that people are “born” as something, again, doesn’t make sense to me. Phil was a basketball player before getting bit by the bodybuilding bug. He wasn’t born with huge muscles, he had to build them.


    Why do you think athletes work with so many coaches? Because they weren’t born with all of the abilities they need. Pitchers learn the various grips on the baseball to throw different pitches. Nolan Ryan wasn’t throwing 100+mph fastballs because he was born with a pitcher’s arm. He slowly worked on his craft, his mechanics, his strength, etc.


    Some people are born into families where they are able to succeed based on who their parents are. While not always the case, it’s hard to argue the fact that Lebron James’ kids are good at basketball because of who their dad is. Likewise, a successful entrepreneur could influence his or her kids to follow in their footsteps simply due to the fact that their kids watched everything they did growing up and that’s pretty much all they know.


    Kids learn a lot from their parents – both good and bad behaviors and habits. Habits and behaviors are learned and not something we were born with. Also, it comes down to the choices people make. No one is born fat or a smoker. They contribute to the behaviors they chose. The same can be said with athletes. Their behavior towards playing a given sport was chosen. It wasn’t forced upon them (even though some parents could force their kids to play a specific sport) and they weren’t born to play the game. These are all things we pick up as we go through life and are created due to individuals’ actions. Again, these are my thoughts and opinions based on what I’ve seen and gone through in my own life.
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    BigZ MC Site Admin Board Certified CPH

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    My first thought to this article is the movie Ratatouille where the chef in the story says, "Anyone can cook." Later the character Anton Ego clarifies that not every chef will become great, but a great artiste can come from anywhere. Maybe some of us are destined to become great athletes/bodybuilders provided certain things fall into place while many of us are not, but they can come from anywhere.

    I read a very interesting book recently called Outliers by Malcom Gladwell that pointed out how many of these great athletes, businessmen, etc., all had some particular things in common, and they almost seem to be happenstance, but in reality they aren't. It involved things like when they were born, how much work they put into their trade, and a few other things.. all seemingly circumstantial and in many cases they happened to be in the right spot at the right time kind of thing. My takeaway from this book would make me answer that great athletes are built but only because they were in the right place at the right time to be given the opportunity to do so.

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    Hard work pays off, but genetics have a lot to do with it as well. Spend some time at with little kids and you can see it played out in front of you. Some of these kids just have the skills at the age of 7 and others don't . That is God given, as they are born with those skills.
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    Genetics are the largest factor. You can't change them, they have to be worked with. All elite athletes have genetics that help not hurt their performance.
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    Answer is both in my humble opinion!

    It’s whoever works hardest to to create that champion out of the small pool of genetically gifted enough to be champion! So in the end I think it comes down to they’re CREATED so long as they were born with those rare genes to begin with.

    i think this holds true for most any athlete and sport

    Not sure who agrees with me or if this was already stated above as I didn’t read the replies yet
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    Author: Ben Presser
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    BigZ MC Site Admin Board Certified CPH

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    Quote Originally Posted by drtbear1967 View Post
    Hard work pays off, but genetics have a lot to do with it as well. Spend some time at with little kids and you can see it played out in front of you. Some of these kids just have the skills at the age of 7 and others don't . That is God given, as they are born with those skills.
    The point that was made in the book that I referenced was that out of all of these kids who had the exact same skills, others excelled and others didn't because of certain external factors such as the month they were born. An example the book used was hockey players, and because of a certain cutoff point in accepting new kids to the program, there were a huge number of players that had birthdays in either Jan, Feb, or March--and it was a big statistical difference. Those that didn't make the cutoff date had to wait until the next year. Those late players if they made it, were not as good as the other players their age because they hadn't had the same amount of training at all so many ended up leaving the program. It wasn't to say they didn't have the talent or genetics to be great, but those external factors affected them detrimentally. Now that said, there are some who are gifted enough to overcome these kind of challenges so I have to agree with Presser that there are both kinds, but the latter is certainly a lot more rare. Honestly, the book freaked me out--even actually frustrating to a degree. You'll read it and go, "so that's why this and this happened!"
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    Interesting for sure.
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