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Saturday, Jun 15 2013 08:30 PM

Michael McCarthy: Being a pro athlete means learning to deal with pressure

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    By Brita Meng Outzen

    Michael McCarthy

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By MICHAEL McCARTHY, Contributing columnist

Salem, Va.

Many times we reference "the pressures of life" or how much "pressure we are under" by the world around us. Whether it is at work, in our home or within our social network, we all feel pressure in varying degrees.

Sports have a tendency to bring out the best in people. Professional athletes compete in a sport at a level that few people can truly understand.

From Justin Verlander to LeBron James, the athletes we love and hate are the best at what they do. But why do we idolize them? We've all made a 3-pointer or kicked a soccer ball in the net at some point, so what makes sports so much fun to watch?

It is the pressure!

The pressure of one professional athlete directly competing against another creates an epic collision of athletic achievement.

Sure we all know that there are few athletes who can even come close to someone like LeBron or Novak Djokovic, but is that what captivates us?

Is that what makes millions of people turn on the television to watch them compete in their respective sport?

It is the cocktail of athleticism, skill, intelligence and will to win that captures us. The day-in and day-out persistence to overcome the "pressure" placed on them to succeed.

Peyton Manning describes pressure as, "something you feel when you don't know what the (expletive) you're doing."

This is what captures us all about sports. The fact that some of the best competitors in the world face off every day with the intention of beating the other into submission.

When I walk out onto the mound each time my name is called to pitch, I'm not facing someone who plays for fun or is going to school full time. I am facing players from around the world who are the best at what they do and are playing for an opportunity to be one of less than 1,000 playing Major League Baseball. They want pressure! They want to compete against the best in the world with millions of people watching.

To play professional sports you can't shy away from pressure but instead say each and every day, "Bring on the pressure!"

McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher who now plays for the Salem (Va.) Red Sox, the Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. His column runs Sundays throughout the baseball season. He can be reached at mccarthybaseball@gmail.com.

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