Sunday, February 03, 2008

This morning's New York Times, reflecting the sports world's fascination with the New England Patriots' quest for a perfect 19-0 season in tonight's Super Bowl, features an article on the mindset of athletes who've recorded some of history's most memorable feats of perfection.

With interviews of athletes from a remarkably diverse array of sports -- from gymnast Nadia Comaneci to speed-skater Eric Heiden to bowler Glenn Allison, who rolled three straight 300 games -- the article notes these performers' virtual unanimity in saying that their minds were always on the immediate task at hand and not on the larger quest for perfection.

There's also a healthy supply of philosophical musings from a familiar source:

“There is no perfect season,” said John Wooden, who coached the U.C.L.A. basketball teams that once won 88 consecutive games. “You can have a season where you win all your games. But that is far from perfect.

“The other teams you played scored points and your team made mistakes. Maybe a lucky bounce actually won you a game or two. No, winning doesn’t make you perfect.”

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