Con­fi­dence’s slip­pery slope

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass in Car­bon­ear. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­

Ir­ish mixed mar­tial arts stand­out Conor McGre­gor stood in the mid­dle of the UFC’s oc­tagon Nov. 12 with a smile on his face.

Per­spi­ra­tion dripped from his brow as he pressed a pair of cham­pi­onship belts to his shoul­ders. McGre­gor had just steam­rolled UFC light­weight king Ed­die Al­varez in the pro­mo­tion’s Madi­son Square Gar­den de­but to be­come their first si­mul­ta­ne­ous two-divi­sion cham­pion.

“I’ve ridiculed ev­ery­one on the ros­ter, I just want to say from the bot­tom of my heart, I’d like to take this chance to apol­o­gize to ab­so­lutely no­body,” the brash 28-year-old told UFC colour commentary man Joe Ro­gan mo­ments af­ter his win.

It was just another in a num­ber of quotes McGre­gor has made that have oozed with a self-con­fi­dence un­like any­thing we’ve seen ever.

He’s turned trash talk into an art form and made mil­lions of dol­lars as he’s bad­mouthed tremen­dous fight­ers all the way to the bank.

McGre­gor is the epit­ome of the pro­fes­sional ath­lete who knows he’s good and isn’t afraid to tell peo­ple about it. He calls his shot and aside from a lone blem­ish against Nate Diaz, he’s been right ev­ery time.

There are fans that like the cocky su­per­star. There are oth­ers who are tired of his shtick.

It leads to an in­ter­est­ing dis­cus­sion about con­fi­dence and how we like to see it man­i­fest in pro sports.

For the most part, we ex­pect our pro ath­letes to be hum­ble and call them out for be­ing cocky.

The ‘classy’ guy is usu­ally placed a bit higher on the scale when he’s run­ning against some­one who tells it like it is.

Crit­ics will say, “Oh, that guy is good but he knows he’s good and he shows it” as if feel­ing good about one’s skills is some­thing to be ashamed about.

When an ath­lete is good, they’re good. There’s not much you can do about it.

Fans will drag a player down when they say they’re team is go­ing to win.

What else are they sup­posed to say?

They aren’t go­ing to say, ‘Well, I think we’re go­ing to lose.’ It’s not re­ally mak­ing a pre­dic­tion.

Think­ing they’re go­ing to win ev­ery game is just how pro ath­letes are wired.

Ath­letes who reach the high­est lev­els have been the best at what they do since they first started learn­ing the game.

At this point, con­fi­dence is as much a part of their game as drib­bling is for a bas­ket­ball player. Why knock them for it? Go­ing back to McGre­gor. He’s some­times vil­i­fied for what comes out of his mouth. He re­ally shouldn’t be.

His con­fi­dence keeps him at the top and has driven him to be the best fighter. McGre­gor’s at­ti­tude isn’t some­thing we should be­lit­tle.

I’m not say­ing it should be ad­mired ei­ther. Con­fi­dence works in dif­fer­ent ways for each ath­lete.

Some need to talk to get them­selves go­ing, while oth­ers know let their play do their talk­ing.

Each works be­cause mostly there are no rules.

Ath­letes do what they can to stay on top. Hold­ing them to some ridicu­lous code of con­duct isn’t worth it.

Just en­joy the show.

Ath­letes who reach the high­est lev­els have been the best at what they do since they first started learn­ing the game.

Ni­cholas Mercer To the Point

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