There is a popular sentiment with athlete’s in regards to sacrifice. I often hear athletes proclaim with pride, all of the sacrifices that they have made for their sport. They postulate about missed social opportunities, stringent dietary restrictions that they suffer, and the sore state of their bodies. This concept of “sacrifice” has always puzzled me.
Perhaps their definition of sacrifice varies from mine. A sacrifice, as I define it, is to relinquish something that is valuable to me, sacred, if you will, for the benefit of another. Sacrifice, by its nature, places an individual in the role of a martyr.
This in no way imaginable describes my relationship with my sport. I am passionate about boxing. It is present in my life, in some form or another, every single day. I pursue my goals with dogged determination. When I miss indulging in Thanksgiving dinner so that I can maintain a certain weight, it is a calculated choice. Not attending certain social functions so that I don’t disrupt my training is another example of me setting my priorities based on choice. My body’s aches and pains are a consequence of my devotion to my training. None of these consequences were forced on me. Their necessity exists because of my convictions to my goals; not because of sacrifice.
Being an athlete is many things. It requires focus and dedication. It requires the mindset and strength to push you to new levels every day. It requires a fierce conviction to reach new goals. I thrive on these notions. They are indeed a lifestyle. It is not an easy pursuit. However, just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t define it is a sacrifice.
I am, admittedly, selfish (not sacrificial) in the pursuit of my goals. I consciously make the choices to forgo indulging in cake and ice cream, or the Friday night ritual of hanging out with friends. I crave more time in the gym, morning roadwork, and healthy fuel for my body.
Can I say that I always love these choices? No, but I make them, religiously, especially on the days that I’m not in love with them. These choices feed my soul and propel me forward in the pursuit of my dreams and goals. Please take notice: MY goals, MY choices, MY passion. This in, no manner imaginable, constitutes any personal sacrifice.
There are however sacrifices made in when it comes to pursuing my passion. Not by me, but by an army of people who willingly give their time, support, and funds to make sure that I get to do what I love. Organizations like USA Boxing and The Golden Gloves are in place solely for the purpose of supporting its athletes and making sure that we get to do what we love in safe, monitored environments.
My coaches spend hours and days in a week away from their own lives to help me progress. I am fortunate enough to have mentors, who walk ahead of me in this journey, that are always willing to take time from their busy lives to offer me much appreciated advice. My teammates give up moments of their valuable training time to work with me.
Perhaps the most monumental sacrifices are made by my family. The time and monetary sacrifices are just the beginning. They have embraced my boxing lifestyle and adopted it as their own. These are the people who fit my definition of sacrifice; to relinquish something that is valuable and sacred for the benefit of another.