There are all kinds of talent. Currently I’m listening to an audio book on Steve Jobs. Although that’s not the type of wunderkind I dealt with during my working days, it still blows me away that people can be that much better than their contemporaries. Our house guest, Albert Van Troba, is the beneficiary of incredible art skills. Maybe the reason art has always amazed me is because I can’t even draw stick figures. Same with sculpture. And musical talent.
While I was a decent athlete, when I got into coaching at the college level, I got to see guys with sensational skills perform daily. Not superior to mine, but superior to 99% of the population. When I got to certain institutions, I’d witness and get to know world class athletes. I’d marvel at Washington State and Oregon track and field performers but that was nothing compared to the overall programs at Tennessee and USC, be they football, basketball, baseball, tennis, track and field, volleyball, swimming, water polo - you name it - men’s or women’s. Not to be outdone by the more prestigious schools, at Fresno State we had - in one year - David Carr, the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Melvin Ely, regarded as the best post player in the nation and a NBA lottery pick, Stephen Abas, Olympic silver medalist (stop and think for a moment, that meant he was the second best wrestler in his weight class in the world) and future PGA sensation Nick Watney (who’s possibly has made more money that all the others). And a couple of years prior to the guys, Laura Berg, the zillion-time Olympic gold medalist starting centerfielder, matriculated at FSU.
Watching magnificent athletes is like witnessing poetry in motion. Another form of artwork (see how I tied the opening together) is seeing perfect photos of these marvelous athletes. Just as there is debate as to who is the greatest player in a sport, similar dialogue takes place with photographers. Always in the discussion, often at the top, is Walter Iooss Jr. While I was rummaging through old boxes, I came across the SI from December 12, 2011 in which Iooss is asked why he’s stayed so long in his profession. His response is not surprising:
“. . . because I’m still fascinated by people who do things the rest of us can’t.”