Tunney Side of Sports, “Maintain Your Focus” – #247 – Sept. 21, 2009

“When you lose focus, it’s no good” I wrote in our book “It’s the Will, Not the Skill” (www.JimTunney.com). That phrase became an issue in the first week in the 2009 NFL season, and not just on the football field. Does the name Serena Williams come to mind? Williams, the USTA’s #2 professional women’s tennis player, lost her focus in the semi-final U.S. Open tournament on Sunday (1st week of the NFL).

During that semi-final match against Kim Clijsters with the second set score at 5-6, 15-30, Williams was called for a foot fault on her second serve by the line judge, making the game score 15-40. Williams then berated the line judge with vile language. The Chair Umpire penalized Williams a point for that outburst, making the set score 7-5 Clijsters and THE MATCH! Williams received a fine of $10,000 for “unsportsmanlike conduct/using threatening language and gestures.”

This incident is about behavior and loss of focus. Williams, has since “sincerely apologized,” saying, “In the heat of battle, I let my passion and emotion get the better of me.” While anger is possible in any of us, keeping our “cool” is vital to remind ourselves what our main focus must be.

Loss of focus also happened in the Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants second quarter as Redskins WR #89 Santana Moss and Giants CB #23 Corey Webster got into a pushing/shoving altercation that developed into a slugfest with both players going to the ground. Although offsetting fouls were called, perhaps both should have been ejected. Offsetting fouls have no loss of yardage for either team, and while the NFL philosophy is “try not to eject” players, this type of fighting needs a stronger game enforcement. While both Moss and Webster will be fined, expulsion from the game would be a powerful reminder of the consequences, when focus is lost.

In Cincinnati, with 11 seconds remaining, the Denver Broncos defeated the Bengals as Broncos WR #14 Brandon Stokely reacted quickly by catching a tipped pass and running 87 yards for the winning touchdown. Stokely kept his focus by (1) not quitting on a pass thrown to a teammate; (2) and, more importantly, as he approached the goal line well ahead of the defenders, Stokely ran parallel at the 1-yard line consuming some 3-4 seconds of time. That’s maintaining focus.

Will you maintain focus on “W*I*N” (What’s Important Now)?

Jim


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