Levels of Intensity

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A good friend of mine has long been viewed as being an aggressive person. No matter whom he came in contact with; if they spent enough time around him they would eventually say he has an aggressive personality. He on the other hand didn’t see it that way. My good friend would always say, “I’m not aggressive, I’m just passionate.” The first time I heard that response I laughed out loud, but over the years I’ve learned that there’s a fine line between being aggressive and being passionate.

One of the main things that passion, aggressiveness and intensity have in common is that they all deal with having or showing strong feelings or opinions. As a former football player it was imperative that I play with a certain level of intensity in order to be successful. As a matter of fact I played linebacker which is a position that requires perhaps more intensity than any other position on the field. There was never a question of if intensity was needed, but a question of what level of intensity was needed.

Intensity is highly beneficial to an athlete, but there comes a point when it can be detrimental. Intensity that boils over to being out of control is harmful to the athlete, the team and even the players’ family. It all comes down to the ability to control something that can be both beneficial and detrimental.

This past Saturday the Chicago White Sox were scheduled to wear their 1976 “leisure suit” throwback uniforms. However, when the Chicago White Sox took the field they were wearing a different version of the throwback uniforms and usual starter Chris Sale did not take the field. The Sox eventually told the media that Sale had been scratched due to “a clubhouse incident.” The Chicago White Sox initially stated only that the incident was non-physical in nature.

However, there have been multiple reports by sports writers whom indicate that Sale was sent home from the game because he got upset about having to wear throwback uniforms and decided to cut the jerseys up so no one could wear them. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn later confirmed that Sale was suspended 5 games for violating team rules, for insubordination and for destroying team equipment. Rick Hahn said in a statement, “While we all appreciate Chris’ talent and passion, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to express concerns about team rules and organizational expectations.”

I believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having an intense desire or enthusiasm for something, but you must remember that there is a correct way and incorrect way to express your concerns. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe you can become great at anything unless you have an intense desire or enthusiasm for it. However, the same intense desire that takes you to the level of greatness can also cause you to lose everything you gained on your way to greatness.

There are levels to intensity and it’s our jobs as coaches’ and parents to help our youth and young adults learn how to control their intensity so that they can make it work for themselves and not against themselves.