Recently, Americans everywhere glued their eyes to TV screens to witness a shocking moment in history, a moment that many will remember for the rest of their lifetime. Yes, I’m talking about the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series in 108 years. It’s already been a week since they clinched the title, but “Go Cubs Go” is permanently engrained in the heads of probably everyone (especially because it’s now number 21 on Billboard’s Pop Digital Song Sales Chart!)
Not only are the 2016 Cubs a team to remember for their fun-loving personalities and cohesive talent, but they are a role model for every athlete in the world. Even though baseball and endurance sports are considered to be two separate worlds, a lot of what the Chicago Cubs demonstrated this season can be lessons learned for all athletes. So, as running and triathlon seasons come to a close, take some tips from America’s favorite team to improve your season next year.
1. Trust Your Coach
Although Joe Maddon has frequently been labeled as the best baseball manager in the league right now, he definitely tested his rep during the post season; when he put Aroldis Chapman in to pitch in the seventh inning in game six, fans everywhere questioned the decision as it seemed too early to bring in the closer. Similarly, in game seven, Maddon took out Kyle Hendricks when he walked a batter in the fifth inning, which again seemed like an irrational decision. However, both times the risk worked in the Cubs’ favor, and despite nearly everyone doubting him, Maddon continued to go with his gut.
Often times, as both fans and athletes, we think we know more than our coach or mentor, but that is their job and they want to see you succeed; plus, they wouldn’t intentionally make a bad decision. Whether you’re on a triathlon team, a running club, or compete individually, if you seek out advice from someone else, then it’s your job to let them do theirs.
2. There’s no “I” in Team
Many argue that baseball is more of an individual sport, because it relies heavily on how each pitcher pitches and how the batters hit. But, the Cubs have proven this argument wrong time and time again, and a perfect example is when Ben Zobrist hit a bunt in game four of the NLCS to get the team’s hitting streak started. Prior to his smart move, the Cubs were in a slump –Anthony Rizzo was two for 26 at bats in the same game, and aside from a few ] home runs and doubles, it was obvious the team would lose if they didn’t start hitting. As soon as Zobrist landed on first base though, the bats were swinging and the balls were flying, and the entire team maintained this motivation to win it all.
A direct comparison can be made with endurance sports; although races are usually a personal competition, we are strongly affected by those around us. Especially if on a team or part of a charity, you’re going to compete like those around you – if your teammates are taking it easy and casually running, you’re likely to do the same. So, even if you’re only running for your own personal record, work with your surrounding competitors to push eachother.
3. Take Pride in Being a Chicago Athlete
It’s no secret that Chicago is the best – I mean, come on, nothing beats deep dish pizza and Chicago style hot dogs. But another reason the Cubs are so easy to love is because they love their city; in a recent interview at Nike Chicago, Kyle Schwarber was asked “will you play in Chicago forever?” and he replied “I really hope so!” and I think his teammates feel the same. In addition to the romantic feeling you get when walking in Wrigley Field, the feeling of being a part of something so big and so loyal is only something you can get in Chicago, which is why there were nearly 5 million fans at Friday’s rally.
Now let’s look at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon – this year, 40,000 runners from all 50 states and 100 countries traveled to compete in OUR marathon. The reasons for that are endless; we have the biggest expo, the course is flat and historical, and the camaraderie is unbeatable. Sport spectators in the city of Chicago are a tough crowd to beat because they’re loyal, inspiring and just downright fun. As a Chicago athlete, embrace that support every chance you get.
4. An Injury is Not the End of the World
While the Cubs’ season ended on the ultimate high, it definitely didn’t start that way – in game three, Schwarber ran into Dexter Fowler when trying to catch a ball in the outfield, and tore his ACL and LCL, putting him out for the rest of the season. As the teams power hitter, this was a major loss for both the players and fans. However, Schwarber took his recovery seriously, didn’t let it discourage him, and was able to come back as the teams designated hitter in the World Series. Come this spring, the second-season athlete is expected to be ready to play in the field again too.
Injuries suck, and they can really put a damper on your season if they’re serious enough, especially if, like the Schwarbs, you need long-term recovery. But, it’s not the end – you will recover and you will get back in shape, it just may take some time and patience but it’s worth it. So instead of letting an injury stop you from competing, channel your energy into recovering by seeing a doctor or going to physical therapy to make sure that when you do put your shoes back on, you’re as good as new.
5. Have Fun
One of the things that make the Cubs, THE Cubs, is their personalities – even when they’re losing, just look into the dugout and you’ll see smiles and laughs (unless its postseason). The guys are always cracking jokes, and seeing them having fun makes them even more fun to watch!
It’s good to take a race seriously – you’ve probably put a lot of time and money into it, and don’t want to feel like you didn’t try your best. But, if running, biking or swimming is your hobby, then you have to let yourself enjoy it. All too often, people get too competitive and end up forgetting WHY they enjoy what they do. So be sure to smile at the spectators, talk to your fellow competitors and maybe even wear a funky outfit to keep the mood light.
6. Never Give Up
One hundred and eight years. That’s how long it took the Chicago Cubs to win a World Series, and it had been 71 years since they had even competed in it. This team has got perseverance down, and coming back from a 1-3 World Series is just another example of it. It took a lot of years of suffering, dealing with “curses” and lack of team chemistry to get there, but they eventually did it.
Like injuries, things happen; you get into a slump, and maybe your 2016 season was not your best. That’s okay though, because 2017 is another year and you’re bound to bounce back. If being an endurance athlete is what you truly love, don’t let a little misfortune get you down, because like the 95-year-old Cubs fans, your time will come.