I was reading about the psychological quality of mental toughness and heroes for a book I’m writing. As I read about the components of mental toughness—a sense of control, seeing challenges as opportunities, having a commitment to the activities pursued, and having confidence in oneself—I finally understood why successful athletes are sometimes referred to as heroes. They possess these qualities, and we admire them for it. With the World Series going on, I thought I could share my epiphany about athletes, heroes, and mental toughness.
It's that time of year again. As the World Series gets under way, there will be a lot of talk about "heroes." Ballplayers won't be the only ones. From a wide range of sports, winners are often referred to as heroes, as was Tiger Woods and Olympic medalist Michael Phelps before -- and even after-- their falls from grace.
Indeed, the word "heroes" is bandied about so much these days that its meaning may be lost. Why, after all, should any athlete be hailed as a hero?
Dictionaries define a hero as someone who exhibits noble qualities such as courage or bravery, or as someone who undertakes heroic acts. Heroes often rise to meet the challenge posed by a great crisis, reacting calmly, remaining in control and exuding confidence.
That definition may suit someone like Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. But a baseball pitcher? In a word, yes.
Read the rest of this op-ed on AOL News.
By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the AOL people, which is one of the great ways in which she's bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room's authors.