The Man in the Arena

An Ode to My Critics


It is amazing that coaches who have accomplished so little can find the time to criticize those of us who work for a living. I guess the beauty of being painfully unemployed is that there is plenty of time to keep up with the writings and workings of your enemies. Strangely enough the latest criticisms revolve around my own desire to improve my program. The beauty of this is that I admit a mistake and that opens the door for criticism. The criticism is that I have no system, no principles because of my frequent changes. The intellectual critic punishes the coach for learning. It’s a funny world. The real beauty is that the critic has no audience, a tree falling in the woods and no one hearing.  However, the greater beauty is that the criticism reminds me of the great quote below and continues to strengthen my resolve to improve my program and my athletes.



The Man in the Arena


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


 Theodore Roosevelt


This wonderful quote from Theodore Roosevelt goes out to all the internet experts who never write articles but, consistently post criticism of what other have written. They are never “The Man in the Arena”, instead they are the fan in the stands shouting at those who play.


Great minds like Columbus and Galileo were ridiculed by small minds. Sports has the term Monday Morning Quarterback. Strength and conditioning has internet experts.


It is amazing how many experts there are who know all the answers after all the questions have been answered by someone else. You know what I want to know? Have they ever even heard Paul Hodges or Stuart McGill speak in person? Have they ever conversed with these people?


Paul Hodges has done one person deep needle EMG studies on himself because he could not find subjects. Stuart McGill travels around the world and has spent thousands of hours researching the spine.


The average internet critic has spent hours trying to find the hole in the argument, to celebrate briefly the “I gotcha moment” alone in a room. The highest compliment one can achieve is to be the subject of mindless criticism. It indicates that you have truly made it.


5 Responses to “The Man in the Arena”

  1. Melanie Driscoll Says:


  2. Criticism of a lack of system? The presumption is, then, that it is better to subscribe to a system without questioning its foundation, than it is to be open to seeing – and addressing – the limitations that all systems inherently have. The ‘internet experts’ who criticize those who have been, and remain in, the proverbial trenches are the same who have managed to become certified by an organization and continue to simply repeat the same information learned in their limited study, closed to the idea that there is any other way. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘Six months of knowledge repeated 20 times is not 10 years of experience.’ Learning is growing; the pursuit of new information will nearly always lead one to realize an error in a previous line of thought. Admitting the error is the only way to do yourself, and those who follow your lead, justice.

  3. Jim Reeves Says:

    I think the key to positive conversation is acknowledging the contribution of others opinions, but balancing these comments with your own offering of key insights. No one benefits from the sniper approach, which is to sit back and tear apart everything a person has to offer. Have your opinion, but offer something in return. If you have valid opinions, your arguments will stand on their own, whether you or I agree with them or not. The main ingredient many internet critics miss is that they cross the invisible line of respect, only looking to disprove a point of discussion, yet not offering a valid solution.

    I think often times, the internet offers the stage for many introductory persons to the S&C environment, the opportunity to give opinions and counter-opinions that would otherwise not be available to them. The key is that those who offer these opinions need to get a handle on their stature within the industry. If you are “no-one”, and you offer a destructive viewpoint, how long do you think your point of contention will last if you offer no counter argument? Just simply offer a viewpoint or a counter argument. Give me something to work with, to digest. I don’t see why anyone with any substantial standing within the S&C community would have a problem with your opinion.

    It’s not who is right or wrong at this point. For me, the discussion at this point need only be just the exchange of ideas so that maybe someone can teach me something I don’t know. I don’t need a black or white solution, just give me reason to believe your opinion.


  4. The beauty, and danger, of the internet is that it democratizes information such that any Tom, DIck and Harry can share the stage with people more expert than themselves. The temptation to prove oneself by ripping holes in the work of others is too great for some.

    We’re fortunate that the people whose articles we like to read don’t get discouraged by this criticism, for without them, there is no discussion.

    Thanks to you and others, Mike, for sharing what you know and what you’re still learning with us. Hopefully we’ll keep our comments throughtful, respectful, and SHORT!

  5. Nicceee 🙂

    it just proves their jealousy for them to go out of their way to pick holes in someones work . . because they arent as successful as them

    ‘alone in a room’ lol

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