Monday, October 22, 2007

Diary of a Sports Diva October 22, 2007

Something came to my attention when I watched part of the San Francisco 49er-New York Giants play. The Niners go three and out on a series, where in one play, Trent Dilfer drops back to set up for a pass and slips and falls on the turf, then on the next play he’s sacked.

It got me thinking about how much karma plays into sports. It seems when teams are down on their luck, bad things continually happen. The quarterback slides and is half a yard short for the first down. A hockey defenseman has the puck hit the back of his skate that misdirects into his own net.

Entering his 11th National Hockey League season, San Jose Sharks’ RW Mike Grier has had his taste of when things go wrong with the struggling teams while everything goes right for the winning teams.

“I’m not sure (if it’s karma). That’s just the way it seems to go. Sometimes you get in a cycle. When you’re team is in a funk, it seems you’re not getting the bounces. The calls that you’d hope to go your way don’t.”

Grier suggests when that happens, sometimes you’re not doing the little things you need to do or you might not be working hard enough. You always hope to make your own breaks.

“It’s weird how that works, though. I think some of it is confidence. When things are going well, you’re working hard and you don’t even know you’re working hard. Everyone has confidence in trying to make plays. You’re doing all the right things.”

But there is that feeling of piling on when a team is down. Every officials’ call goes against you. Passes don’t click.

“Sometimes it’s tough (to get out of a funk),” Grier admits. “Sometimes you just need kind of a fluky bounce for a goal to go in, maybe steal a win or something like that and get everyone to feel good about themselves. Then you can slowly start to right the ship.”

© 2007 Debbie Elicksen

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Taking a page from Daniel Briere's playbook

Last week, I was face-to-face with Philadelphia Flyers sensation Daniel Briere. While hockey fans find it hard to believe that since Briere came into his own during the 2006 playoffs, he did struggle earlier in his career. With Phoenix, he was on the bubble -- up and down from the minors like a yo yo, suffered from injuries, and then there was the 2004-05 lockout season. Now he is perhaps one of the top five players in the NHL.

Knowing his career has not been easy to get to this point, Briere admits he was going through the motions.

"Early on in my career, I was just going through the steps – it’s the American league, it’s the NHL – I was just following the steps – this is the way it’s supposed to be. And then when it’s taken away from you for a few years, you realize how much fun it was and how hard it is to get there but even harder to stick there and stay and keep getting better. So when I had a second, third, fourth chance and things really started to turn and get even better, now I just appreciate every single moment that I’m in the NHL, every single game. Because I know it can get away really quick.”

So what made the difference? Turning from mediocre to great doesn't happen overnight and without some concentrated effort.

“It’s not just one thing; it’s a combination of things. Obviously, maturing was a big part of it, finding the love of the game again, my training regiment, mentally getting stronger. It was a bunch of little things over the course of a year, year and a half that helped me get out of the rut that I was in.”

When Briere says he found the love of the game again, that meant he was not having any fun. This is where the real message comes in -- not just for Briere, but for all of us.

“When I realized that I wasn’t having fun, I was scared to go to the rink when I was in the NHL, pouting when I was in the American league, and blaming everything around me. When I kind of realized that and at the same time, I wasn’t enjoying the game. Slowly, I started working on that, stopped blaming everybody else, stopped pouting, and then the love of the game came in, and that’s when I started having fun again. Early on, I would get sent down and blame the coach, blame the players you’re playing with, blame the ice. You’re trying to point around you, except look in the mirror. That’s what I did, just like a lot of young players do. I was lucky that it wasn’t too late. I still had a chance to come back and get out of this. I was fortunate that I found it quick enough.”

Regardless of who we are, what tasks we toil, and what industry we work, we can all take a page from Daniel Briere's playbook.