Nearing the end of yet another flawless ride down the pipe, White pulled out a move no one had ever seen before, including himself. White’s McTwist 1260, which he later named ‘The Tomahawk’, left the crowd absolutely speechless. When asked about it, White admitted that he had never actually done the move in competition before, only in practice. Regardless, he had stuck the landing and earned a score of 48.4, which only increased his margin of victory. White took home the gold and the status of Olympic legend.
The greatest athletes push their particular sport beyond the point of athletics. Watching Shaun White ride the pipe, Michael Jordan shoot a jump shot, or Peyton Manning throw a touchdown pass is not just athletic, they make it an art. There is a certain precision and beauty to everything they do. They control the game like a seasoned painter brushing and dabbing at a canvas. Everything bends to their will. They’ve honed their craft to the point where now it’s not only mechanical, it’s actually a form of expression. It’s a McTwist 1260.
The professional athlete takes what is athletic and makes it artistic.
For the professional artist, I would argue that the exact opposite is true. There are many people who consider themselves artists because they have the ability to draw, write, or play music. Professional artistry is often more about endurance than ability though. Writing a series or great novels, performing eight shows a week, or doing a forty city album tour is oftentimes much more athletic than it is artistic. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. The professional artist trains her creative muscles just as an offensive lineman does reps on a bench press. She knows that she must be able to execute at a high level, even when the magical creativity fairy is not whispering in her ear. The picture still needs to be taken. The chapter still needs to be finished. The song still needs to be sung.
The professional artist takes what is artistic and makes it athletic.
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