A TALE OF OPPOSITES

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(Martin St. Louis)

I watched two games last night on television, two different games in two different sports. Both important games in their sport yet each athlete I honed in on are so polar opposite I felt the need to share.

It’s NHL Playoff season. The series are long and brutal. Each series lasts seven games. The winner of each series moves up to the next stage until the reach the championship for the Stanley Cup, the granddaddy of all pro sports awards. Nothing beats it. Nothing.

My New York Rangers were 1 win, 3 losses against the Pittsburgh Penguins. One more loss and they’re out of it. So, they had to win last night. One of their new star players Martin St. Louis also had a personal tragedy. His mother, after a long, extended illness, passed away on Thursday the day before yesterday.

He flew home to Montreal immediately to be with his family and after a brief visit talking it over with them, decided to play Friday night, his father telling him that’s what his mother would have wanted him to do. He played with a courageous face and a brave heart. He put it all on the ice. He commented that she was with him the whole game and indeed she was, in his heart and in his soul.

Contrast that emotionally charged, beautifully touching picture with this: a bravado, cocky young Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team player, Yasiel Puig so full of himself he makes a big deal out of every hit he gets. In fact, he celebrates nearly every walk, every hit, every on base that comes his way. He throws a tantrum each time a pitcher dares throw a strike past him. And if he’s out, he nearly stomps up and down in protest. He flips his bat even when getting a single and saunters to first base, taking his time. He hit a home run last night and took extra time to brag about the moment towards my team (SF Giants’) pitcher Madison Bumgarner. This angered the more mature Bumgarner, as it would anyone, which if it had been an isolated incident wouldn’t attract any attention, but because Puig does this every time he’s at bat makes him the Justin Beiber of Major League Baseball. Puig’s behavior is tolerated by the Dodgers’ organization as Beiber’s disgraceful behavior is tolerated by the commercial music industry.

But what do these individuals have to do with a fitness and health blog, namely MY blog? Because like St. Louis and Puig, we all have the chance to act in life. We CHOOSE how to act in our lives. We’re never perfect. Humans make mistakes. Each and every moment we’re given the chance to make choices how we treat ourselves and other people. If we screw up, we can choose not make those same choices again.

When someone like Martin St. Louis, who knows his team is relying on him to him to help them win the team’s most important game of the year, even in his moment of pain and despair chooses to stand tall and put aside such heartbreak and be the stronger for it, he’s made a choice. When Puig acts like a spoiled princess because he can’t get his way and stomps his feet, treating others like crap, that’s the choice he made. But he makes that choice over and over and over again. He never learns that this is not the way to behave. Whether he has no one to teach him otherwise, or if he’s been told this is the way to act to get what he wants is unclear, but somewhere along the line, something went wrong.

So, we have a choice to make. Will we be our stronger selves today and make the right choices or do something else?

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(A tearful Puig?)

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