Monday, June 11, 2012

Half Measures

In the late 1970's and early 80's, Bjorn Borg was far and away the most dominant male tennis player in the world. He won five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles and six French Open titles and was the first player ever to win two Grand Slam tournaments without dropping a set.

Then, in 1981, at the age of 25, because he had been playing for a "long time," he decided to take a short break from tennis. After the break he returned but intended to play fewer tournaments. His reduced schedule meant he didn't automatically qualify for tournaments and had to play in the qualifying rounds. After qualifying for Monte Carlo in 1982, he lost in the quarterfinals to Yannick Noah. It was the only tournament he played that year. In January 1983, he announced his retirement.

Borg's tennis career is like anything else--it's hard to dabble and be successful. None of the executives I work for dabble with their careers, and I certainly wouldn't get my teeth worked on by someone who dabbles in dentistry. Success requires focus and commitment.

Since the start of the season, I have been dabbling in road racing. I am unwilling to commit nearly every weekend to racing and frankly haven't missed it. The few events I have done have been a mixed bag--I've had some races where I felt good and some other races where I really didn't. Saturday was one of those races where I felt decidedly not good. When I'm racing every weekend, it's easy to shrug off and say I'll be back next week. When I'm racing a lot less, it just makes me question whether there is a point.

I had a good run in 2010 and had some great results. That season will always be a point of pride for me. It also required a commitment on every level that I simply can't again afford to make.

In 1991, Bjorn Borg attempted to return to tennis. He failed to win a single match.


  1. If I were Bjorn I would have done the same thing (take a break). With a pile of money and the whole world as your playground, bye bye tennis.

    Choose the point on the passion scale (from dabbler to pushing your limits) that makes you happy.

  2. try harder.

    at whatever you choose to put your energy into

  3. You mean you wont be joining other middle age men who measure their self worth based on a result of a bike race??? GOOD FOR YOU!!! Dont get me wrong bike racing can be fun at times and give you some character, but on the other hand life is so much more than chasing results! Whatever you decide to pursue, just enjoy it.

  4. The good news is that 'cross requires much less of our time. And even getting shellacked at those races is still a lot of fun.