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Rev. Bob Richards - Former Decathlon Champion
Excerpts from a speech given at the 1973 L.S.U. Basketball Banquet. His astute observations still apply to the great athletes of today.

We are all inclined to accept the thesis that sport is all Physicality, and that athletes are all muscle and bone. However, I am going to prove a different hypothesis. That the world of sport is more determined by thought and goals than anything else. The world of sport is a world of emotion, it's a world of temper and most of all it's a world of ideas.

The French believe that every great man that has ever lived has had a fixed concept, Idee fixe, of what he wants to be. They believe that this fixed goal is the vital determinant of life. I have been in sports for twenty-five years and would like to give you three shocking summaries.

  1. Great athletes will tell you what they're going to do years before they do it.
  2. They predict to a 10th of a second the races that they are going to run or swim.
  3. In most cases it is thought to be impossible. It has not been done in the history of the world.

They have an "idee fixe", a mental process of what they're going to do in life. Billie Jean King, Peggy Fleming, Johnny Bench, Mark Spitz are all examples of athletes that have predicted their success. I have watched this in athlete after athlete. They tell you what they're going to do long before they do it.

You become like the "Idee fixe" in your brain. You become like the thing you go for. That's why I say go out to be the greatest. In whatever profession you go into, go out to be the best in the world; because you will become like the thing you go after. The great ones go for the impossible. They go for world records.

You are what you think. The capacity of a person is still unknown. Muscles are capable of 100 times more work than the built-in limiter, the brain, will permit. Every weight lifter will tell you that you must think you can lift the weight before the body can. It is most staggering to realize in this world of so-called "muscle and bone" the mind is the determining thing.

Psychologists studying great people in all walks of life in an attempt to find a common denominator for greatness, cannot agree on anything except a principle called "F.Q." or Failure Quotient. F.Q. is the ability to bounce back. The great ones can be beaten but they bounce back. They do not let an injury or a mistake beat them. You will not be great unless you have F.Q. along with an "Idee Fixe". You have to be beaten to be great.

Champions are not born. They do not just spring up. If you study every great athlete in this country and in the world you will find that they come from an atmosphere of greatness. They go to a place where there is a coach who thinks great things can happen. They are surrounded by a loved one, sweetheart, friend or someone who says they can be the best in the world.

Study U.C.L.A. psychology of basketball. John Wooden expects greatness from his players. He expects them to perform to the peak of their efficiency. He expects greatness and the great ones go there - an atmosphere of greatness.

You are what you think. Expect a miracle and it will happen. You are programmed for success. All of us are over endowed. We have capabilities that we haven't scratched the surface of yet. We have physical powers that we haven't even discovered. We are made to win; and it takes a lot of messing up and wrong thinking to keep you from triumphing in life. Learn from the great game of basketball that you can win in this great game called "living."