In the nearly 30 years that I have been involved with National Team and professional volleyball, I have heard hundreds of inspirational quotes and more bits of useful advice than I could hope to count. There was one pivotal quote that I heard twenty odd years, that remains with me. I don’t remember the author, although I seem to remember it coming from a sports psychology lecture of some kind, but I suspect it wasn’t original even then.
“Is Karch Kiraly a professional because he gets paid? Or does he get paid because he is a professional?”
Although the question obviously has no correct answer, the meaning is clear: If you want to be treated like a professional, you have to act like one.
In a similar vein, (then) wannabe filmmaker Kevin Smith was given the following advice by his sister on how to achieve his goal.
“Be a filmmaker – approach everything in life as if you are already a filmmaker.”
And so it goes at all levels. If you want to be treated seriously, you have to treat yourself and what you do seriously. I see it all the time in volleyball. Volleyballers expecting sponsors to give them money or fans to come to their games, while themselves not taking it seriously by preparing well or presenting themselves appropriately. Clubs put on ‘professional level’ matches in substandard gyms, don’t pay attention to medical support or are too lazy or shortsighted to even use the tools they have at their disposal to put on a good show. I have seen a club refuse to move a Taraflex floor 3 metres to lay it down for the biggest match in their history, so they could save €2,000. In one of the least shocking pieces of news in sport history, that club no longer participates at the highest level because it was unable to attract sponsors. I have seen a club participating in a European Cup couldn’t even manage to report the correct country from which their opponent came. I have often been asked what is the difference between German volleyball and Italian volleyball. The best easy answer I could come up with was, ‘Italians take it more seriously’.
If you want to be paid like a professional, you must first act like one. Not the other way around.
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