In many ways, we live in a nation with wacko priorities.
We honor celebrities as special humans while routinely dissing teachers. We argue in granular detail about the merits of national political figures. Yet we pay scant attention to the local officials who actually influence our lives.
Even in that great opiate of the masses — sports — a cockeyed perspective often prevails. We revere the relatively few champions as if they were war heroes, while treating those on subpar teams like bums. Why, because those in the second group are losers, right?
Let me tell you something: Athletes who remain committed on crappy teams generally have far more to teach than those swigging champagne after their final game. I was reminded of this reality while devouring a biography called “Butkus: Flesh and Blood.”
Dick Butkus might be the best defensive football player who ever lived. He was feared and admired for the intensity and savagery he brought to the middle linebacker position.
Yet he was never on a championship team. In fact, he enjoyed only two winning seasons during his nine-year career with the Chicago Bears.
And thanks to a seriously damaged right knee, he played most of those games in excruciating pain. Yet through it all, he treated each down as if it might be his last.
That kind of commitment under duress has a lot to offer senior living operators, especially right about now. Let’s face it, many in this field have their own challenges to contend with.
That starts with working conditions, equipment and teammates that, frankly, are not professional-grade. And while whispering past the cemetery now is in vogue, the fact remains that many senior living communities are, shall we say, financially troubled. That didn’t start with COVID-19, by the way. Not that the pandemic helped.
I wonder how many in this sector have the guts to to do what Dick Butkus did: Bring their A game every day, knowing full well that it’s not going to be anywhere near enough?
Championship celebrations are fun to watch and even better to be a part of. But the reality experienced by most professional athletes — and most pros in this field — tends to be a lot closer to what Butkus experienced: having one’s passion and commitment constantly challenged.
Survive that drill year after year, and you’ll be anything but a loser. Just don’t expect a parade.