Artists And Athletes Have A Lot In Common, It's Time We Respect Them Equally

Artists And Athletes Have A Lot In Common, It's Time We Respect Them Equally

Socially being an Athlete is considered to be a possible career while being an artist is considered to only be a "side gig" or hobby, and I think it's time for that to change.

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Artists and Athletes have many similarities, it's time they're shown the same respect.

Growing up I was exposed to sports and the arts. My parents wanted me to have the opportunity to choose an outlet that I would enjoy and devote myself to. I played football, soccer, baseball, went to a basketball camp (an epic failure), did years of swimming and eventually landed on running.

During the same length of time, I discovered music, specifically my love for singing. I started in the church then sang and toured with the Maryland State Boychoir for about five years. I performed my first two operas before I had turned 13, and, once I got to high school, I started to sing chamber music competitively and do stage productions. Now, I run for fun to stay in shape while also majoring in vocal performance at Butler University.

These juxtaposing experiences as an athlete and a musician could have belonged to two separate people. It's unordinary for a young black male to pursue the arts over sports. However, I want to challenge that this could be normalized if people allowed it to happen. Performing and visual arts are being cut from schools, but sports still remain a high priority, socially and economically. Young men and women could be carrying instruments instead of guns and dancing on stages instead of poles. And yet, this illusion that the arts are becoming less valuable in society is being supported by the fact that most parents and influencers in a child's life will ask "do you play a sport?" If you don't, well let's hope you make straight A's and become an engineer, doctor or lawyer. You know, "something to pay the bills."

Athletes and artists have a lot more in common than they're given credit. Although I don't race competitively anymore, I believe my experience warrants my opinion that the level of dedication it takes to be an athlete is more than comparable to what it takes to be an artist.

Classical musicians and elite athletes might not appear to have much in common. But whether they are on the stage or the field, holding a violin or a football, there is a constant pressure for them to perform under the spotlight. For example, as a runner, I had the pressure to not only race my hardest, but also run faster and faster every time I set foot on a course. As a singer, I have to translate what I've learned and practiced for weeks for often times a singular performance.

Both artists and athletes share a common trait in their pursuit of excellence and mastery. Making art and engaging in athletics take hard work, practice and drive, both also being rigorous. A basketball player isn't going to perfect their free throw shot without practice. The same goes for an artist looking to get better at drawing, a singer developing his or her voice or a dancer becoming stronger. Both groups of people hope to make a means of living from their crafts and abilities, requiring a level of discipline and determination to achieve their goals. The hours of time spent developing and becoming better shouldn't be qualified by a perceived level of difficulty that a person chooses.

There is also a misconception that artists, specifically musicians, don't have to take nearly as much care of their body as athletes. This misconception I believe is grounded in what people see physically. Athletes are working towards different kinds of strength and endurance. Their physiques are products of hard work in both practice and training building muscle for their particular sport. As a singer, a classical singer at that, I know that being healthy is extremely important because my body is my instrument. I can only get so sick before it starts to affect my voice. I worry a lot about my posture and breath control, and the better shape I'm in and in tune with my body I am affects having a lead in a two to three-hour-long opera or oratorio. My art does not require me being able to do double backflips or picking up heavy objects, but the amount of stamina and energy to pull off a full recital, production, or concert by any musician is underestimated, especially when the average person can't do it. And just like the dancers, musicians must maintain a façade of ease and control while demonstrating mastery.

So let's talk about dancers. Many dancers start off by doing it competitively while also training. However, dance is an art form requiring physical and mental exertion. It's also a skill that can tap into an audience's emotions to make them feel a specific way, just like music. I have so much respect for the dancers I go to school with. The amount of strength, poise, and discipline that it takes to put a production together while also implementing their training to a tee is absolutely impeccable and comparable to any sports team and/or athlete. They must eat healthily and in large quantities. They also have injuries and surgeries that I could never imagine going through, and many times they perform through the pain just like any athlete. Dancers are athletes that defy all normal human limitations, bending in ways NFL players could never imagine and having the stamina of cross-country runners powering through two to three hour-long ballets. Dancers do all this while maintaining a façade of ease.

Performing artists are prone to repetitive stress injuries. Playing a musical instrument professionally or dancing requires a level of physical fitness similar to that of a sports athlete: agility, flexibility, neuromuscular coordination, muscular endurance and muscular strength. However, there is one major difference between musicians and sports athletes. Sports athletes have coaches observing and correcting the athlete's movement patterns in order to improve efficiency as well as hoping to prevent a sports injury during each practice and athletic event, while the musician sees their "coach" once a week for an hour. He/she is expected to remember any technique changes etc (mechanical corrections etc….) while they practice alone and attending extraneous rehearsals.

All these individuals follow the adage "practice makes perfect" or "practice makes permanent".

I understand that most classical musicians are not going to make the kind of money or a mainstream pop star or rapper, and if I wanted to pursue that more heavily I wouldn't have chosen to go to music school at this point in my life. I chose this career path knowing I wasn't going to be rich (one could hope and dream), but the respect I have for athletes and their craft I do not feel is reciprocated by them or society. The time and energy they put into their careers do not make them any different than an artist trying to make it in society.

So, to all my athletic friends and future professional athletes, take appreciation in the arts and the people who choose to make it their careers. Your child may one day want to pursue a career in the arts but be pressured into doing something else thinking that they may disappoint you. What you can teach them as an athlete will help them exponentially as an artist.

The next time you're watching a movie, listen to the soundtrack of the musicians performing with the orchestra. The next time you see a dancer, avoid asking why they chose not to play a sport or pursue a different career. Our lives as artists are driven by passion and determination and I believe that any athlete would agree when looking into their own lives.

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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The First Time My Mistakes No Longer Controlled My Life

Mistakes suck, and though I've conquered a few, I'm still learning.

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The whistle blows as the team cheers on.

My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent or I will fail. Fear.

In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously stated, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Such a statement proves powerful to the matured minds of society; however, in the minds of some adolescents, this declaration appears somewhat foolish, as numerous "threats" ignite fear, thus causing teens to grow anxious.

A major cause for fear in the rising generation takes form in failure. In the eyes of these people, making a simple mistake paves the way towards absolute failure; therefore, perfectionists constantly walk on eggshells attempting to do the impossible: avoid human error. This mentality gives way to constant stress and overall disappointment, as perfection does not apply to human beings. If one can come to the realization that not one person can attain perfection, they can choose to live life in ease, for they no longer have to apply constant pressure upon themselves to master excellence. The fear of failure will no longer encumber their existence, and they can overcome situations that initially brought great anxiety. I too once put great pressure on myself to maintain perfection, and as a result, felt constantly burdened by my mistakes. However, when I realized the inevitability of those mistakes, it opened the door for great opportunities. The first time I recognized that failure serves as a tool for growth allowed me to no longer fear my mistakes, and instead utilize them for my own personal growth.

The whistle blows as the team cheers on. My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment, and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent. As hard as I try, I fail; as the ball flies straight into the net and thuds obnoxiously onto the gym floor, so does my confidence. I feel utter defeat, as I know my fate. My eyes water as my coach immediately pulls me from the game, sits me on the bench, and tells me to "get my head into the game" instead of dwindling on past errors. From then on I rarely step foot on the court, and instead, ride the bench for the remainder of the season. I feel defeated. However, life does not end, and much to my surprise, this mistake does not cause failure in every aspect of my life. Over time, I gradually realize that life does not end just because of failure. Instead, mistakes and failure pave the way toward emotional development and allows one to build character. In recognizing that simple slip-ups do not lead to utter failure, I gain perspective: one's single mistake does not cause their final downfall. Thus, this epiphany allowed for my mental growth and led me to overcome once challenging obstacles.

Instead of viewing mistakes as burdens, one should utilize them as motivation for future endeavors. The lesson proves simple: all can learn from their mistakes. However, it is a matter of choosing to learn from these mistakes that decide one's future growth. Instead of pushing faults away, I now acknowledge them in order to progress. Before coming to such a realization, I constantly "played it safe" in sports, fearing that giving my best effort would lead to greater error. I did not try, and as a result, I rarely failed.

Although such a mentality brought forth limited loss in terms of overall team success, it also brought forth limited, individual success. Today, fear of failure no longer controls life on the court. I use my mistakes as motivation to get better; instead of dwindling on an error made five minutes prior, I focus on the form needed to correct it. As a result, skills will constantly improve, instead of regress. Thus, errors serve as blessings, as it is through these errors in which one can possess the motivation to better themselves.

For some, fear acts as an ever-present force that controls every aspect of life. In particular, the fear of failure encumbers perfectionists, as the mere thought of failing causes great anxieties. In the past, I have fell victim to the fear of committing a mistake, and as a result, could not go through life without feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat. However, in a moment of what appeared to be a great failure, I finally recognized that life does not end due to one mistake, let alone one million. Instead, mistakes pave the way toward personal development and provide essential motivation to succeed in everyday life. Without mistakes, it proves difficult to grow in character. One must first learn to accept their faults before they can appreciate their best qualities. Thus, the fear of failure inhibits the growth of an individual; therefore, all must come to the realization that essentialness of mistakes, as they allow for the further development of overall character.

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