Do You Live for the Applause or the Purpose?

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, professional and collegiate sports came to a screeching halt. The NBA ended their season early, the NCAA canceled “March Madness,” and Major League Baseball postponed spring training. While it does seem like it was absolutely necessary to put up the red light during March and April, sports fans and athletes are itching to get back in the game. 

Planning a Season Amongst the Pandemic

While the NFL is making provisions for their off-season training and NASCAR hosted a race this weekend, the MLB is next up. They are proposing plans to forge a comeback for professional team sports sometime in July.

This comeback plan is all about safely hosting games, which would be in select stadiums and would require adherence to social distancing restrictions. And there is one big, important factor that is hands down required to operate safely – there won’t be any fans in the stands.

Based on stadium capacities, the closeness of seating, and the amount of shared surfaces, there really is no way to guarantee safety for fans, workers, and the players if the stadiums are packed. So instead, the players’ association decided they would make that compromise and host a “fanless” season for the foreseeable future if that means they can get their season going.

But, fans are chiming in with mixed emotions on how this season will play out and if games will still be exciting to watch if stadiums are empty.

Some of the questions include, “Do you think the players will play as hard if fans aren’t’ there cheering?” And, “will it even matter if no one is there to watch?” 

It does present an interesting question about athletes and motivation.

Does a Crowd Matter?

It’s likely that if you ask any athlete (or performer) whether or not they would prefer a crowd, most would say yes. They would explain how they feed off the energy of the fans. How they can look up and take in the scene of a sold-out crowd to get a rush that flows through their entire body. It energizes them, turns on their adrenaline, and channels their energy into their performance. 

However, there are also athletes that have an incredible superpower and practice mindfulness in a way that allows them to “get in the zone.” When they are in their zone, they are laser-focused on the now. They are mentally at the top of their game and they mute any outside noise, influences, or chatter as they tunnel-vision their focus into what they need to do to perform. 

These players – think Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant – are not playing the game for the fans. They are playing the game for themselves, to challenge their mental and physical capabilities, and to be the best player on the court. 

These athletes don’t play for the accolades, they play for achievement. It’s’ about reaching their potential and performing at the highest level they can attain. They know that the ego plays for accolades, but your true self plays for growth.

And this is not just about athletes. In the social distancing world in which we live right now, we are all being forced into these situations. Much like our favorite athletes, we are performing without a crowd. We are putting ourselves out there not knowing who is on the other side. We are presenting to an empty room with no more feedback than the echo of our own voices.

But does that mean we can’t perform at our best?

If are truly living our purpose and we feel confident about what we are putting out into the world, then we shouldn’t need that outside validation. The applause can be part of the reward, but it shouldn’t be the motivation for why we get out there and give it our all. Once we decide that the audience’s reaction is our reward, we’ve given up control of the situation and are letting our worth fall into the hands of others. And we know that self-worth is about more than what others think of us.

Let’s perform to be our best – to achieve and to grow. No matter who listens, learns, or cheers, we should be proud of our performance each and every time and continue to strive to unleash our own human potential and reach our peak. Let’s not live for the applause.

So what do you think? Can you still perform at a high level, can you still perform without the applause? Do you think the MLB will have a boring season or will we see players performing at their highest potential without the distraction of fans? 

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