Change the World?

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS June 2, 2014 #491 Up next…Change the World?

After further review… These Tunneyside columns/blogs are intended to give others ideas to help them enjoy life to its fullest and in doing so, improve the lives of people around them. The world of sports is the primary source of the issues we explore here. But on occasion we veer into the unusual. Today we ask a “loaded” question:  Is Navy SEAL training a sport?

Well, if ‘sport’ implies overcoming rigorous mental and physical challenges to achieve victory, then those who successfully complete the course do, indeed, meet the criteria. If the lessons of sport can inspire discipline and integrity elsewhere in life, then in the Navy SEALs we find yet another match.

Admiral William H. McRaven, an alumnus of the University of Texas and its Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps,  earned a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, Ca.) and went onto a distinguished career as a SEAL team commander and director of U.S. Joint Special Operations (including the mission that disposed of Osama bin Laden). McRaven delivered the Longhorn commencement address on May 17, drawing extensively from his SEAL experience, telling the assembled candidates “If you think it’s hard to change the lives of 10 people – just 10 – change their lives forever, you’re wrong.”

McRaven gave this example “A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the 10 soldiers with him are saved from a close-in ambush”. Moreover, he observed,” Generations upon generations were saved by one decision, one person.” In McRaven’s ethos the following simple points loom large:

Make your bed every morning! Admittedly it’s mundane, but by doing so you will accomplish a simple task, which will encourage you to do another and another. Should your day turn out miserably, you’ll at least come home to a bed that is made.

Find someone to help you paddle! Lives depend on SEALs paddling efficiently together, not singly. Neither can changing the world be done alone. Get someone to help you!

Life can be difficult! Failure is a certainty – and it may happen often. But if you keep working at the task at hand, success is possible.

Stand your ground! Navy SEALs are taught to survive encounters with shark-infested waters by exhibiting no fear and using a ‘punch in the snout’ if necessary.  “There are lots of ‘sharks’ in the world, but if you want to change the world,” said McRaven, don’t back down from the sharks!”

The Tunneyside sees strong parallels between the character building in sports and Navy SEAL training.

Will you give it your best shot using McRaven’s advice?

To contact Jim go to or email

Jim’s book “101 Best of Tunney Side of Sports” is available here.

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