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4: Lessons Learned - Value

Our ‘Ultimate Value’ as elite athletes, our category status (A, B, C), is determined by our in-game-performance, the tangibles. How well does the athlete execute the skills necessary to win? If an athlete wants success, wants to attain next-level opportunities, wants to achieve their dreams and be considered truly elite, then they have to perform when it matters, on the playing surface, in competition.

In other words, ‘You’ve Gotta have Game’.

But athletes also have a ‘Penultimate Value’, that value is created, measured and evaluated, based on a variety of secondary factors, the intangibles: character, leadership, coach-ability, perseverance, discipline, communication, camaraderie, community involvement, etc.

While it’s difficult to significantly differentiate ourselves from the other competitors in our category (A or B or C) based purely on skill and in-game-performance (the tangibles), it does become easier to create distinction when we start to factor in these other elements (the intangibles).

A large supply of athletes are in fierce competition for a limited number of opportunities. In an incredibly crowded space, where so many are fighting to attract the attention of the gatekeepers — recruiters, scouts, coaches, managers, agents and sponsors — it’s easy to be overlooked and undervalued. The gatekeepers are busy, stretched, overtaxed, pressured professionally and personally, and athletes have a finite opportunity, under often imperfect conditions, to make a defining statement and leave a lasting impression.

Regardless of the restrictions and pressures on the evaluators, they will easily identify the A category athletes. Athletes in this category, with its finite numbers and their highest-end-skills, will be in fierce demand, quickly pursued, recruited, drafted and signed.

Being identified and pursued from within the B and then the C categories is a much more uncertain scenario. What distinguishes one B from another B on the playing surface can be marginal and almost imperceptible. Since the majority of evaluations are made during in-competition viewings, based almost solely on the tangibles: athleticism, demonstrated skills and performance (Ultimate Value), it’s difficult for an athlete to showcase their intangibles: leadership, communication, etc., (Penultimate Value), which, when combined together with their tangibles, may make them a decidedly more attractive commodity.

Athletes in this category have to work that much harder to get noticed due to the sheer volume of competition: more bodies make for a more crowded space, making it harder to get separation from the field. Logistically it’s more challenging for the evaluators as well, it’s hard to be everywhere, it’s hard to be sure they’re evaluating everyone that should be evaluated, it’s hard to get enough quality viewings to guarantee that everyone’s evaluation is complete and comprehensive.

If it’s difficult for even the elite to stand out amongst their category peers, then what must an athlete do to gain separation? What must a heavily invested athlete and their family do to ensure their dream has its best chance of success? How does an athlete ensure that they’re getting enough and the right attention; that they are being evaluated for their total value — the tangible and intangible, their Ultimate and Penultimate Values?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the answer – in general. We all understand that with excellence and intelligence, we must do more! More work, more practice, more competition, more study, more sacrifice, more drive, more discipline, more exposure, more, more, more, more. More of everything and then trust that our more is greater than that of the athletes we compete against.

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