There were very high hopes Saturday that we could defeat the Georgia Bulldogs, as well as settle the rivalry with Florida for one year. In both cases, we were either tied at the half or leading the game. Things, unfortunately, went the other way, and two potentially winnable games ended up coming off as damaging losses, both to the football team and their fans. As distressed and angry as the fans are, though, imagine the football team's state—their feelings and impact from this are much harder and self-defeating. It's bad enough that they've lost, but it's even worse that their fans, who are supposedly their support, are giving them a hard time. As athletes, they face a lot of scrutiny if they don't do well—it seems as if they aren't strong enough or don't work hard enough. Even if they give it their all for their fans, their work isn't recognized. It sounds somewhat unfair and cruel, but there are some things they must accept as part of their being an athlete. It shouldn't be this way, however.

Athletes are usually seen as being very strong at sports, such as soccer or football. At first glance, one would think that a soccer player just needs to be able to run for very long distances and have extreme stamina, but they should have more than that. An athlete needs to be strong physically, mentally, and emotionally. From the biting media attention as you go up sports tiers, to the rising of your inner self-perfectionist, these athletes face a particularly daunting occupation, not including their opponents. At any moment, the feeling of having failed not just your fans, but also yourself, is one that many athletes fear. This is one of the inherent troubles of being a professional athlete in your sport—trying to fit the stereotype as an athlete that should always win if he or she wants to be successful.

However, this type of thinking is narrow-minded; it makes it seem like the only reason you should work hard is not to achieve your dreams, but to only win, get paid, and satiate the bottomless competition-stomachs of greedy humans. If that's the sole reason, then it shows just how arrogant and ignorant we are. We benefit at the cost of others' well being, and even if this is true in other aspects of the world, it doesn't give us an excuse to do it for this situation. If it can be avoided, then so be it. They should be doing what they love as a method to continuously improve themselves, not exclusively to entertain an increasingly obese population of people sitting in front of televisions and computers getting lazier and unhealthier by the second.

Sure, by being athletes, they have some inherent risks they must accept, and take responsibilities for their actions. However, that doesn't give fans or others a valid reason to say that they should simply give up.They are just as human as you and me, and even though they could be considered professional athletes, that doesn't mean they don't make mistakes. The point is that they keep trying, regardless of how stacked the odds are against them. Even if you lose a game, as long as you haven't lost that spark to keep trying and keep improving, then you still have the potential to win again.

For those on sports teams, jobs, or students studying hard—you didn't get to where you are now by being lazy. You got there with your willpower, and some help here and there from friends, family, and others. If you give up now, you've wasted all their efforts and belief in you; I don't think you want to put their kind actions to waste, now do you? Unless you're a person who does everything correctly all the time, don't speak down to others like you're superior—not only do you make things worse, but you also show just how embarrassingly pitiful your self-esteem is. We have no need for people in our society who don't want us to improve ourselves and become better. There's nothing more upsetting than being held back, when we want to try our best and show what we're made of. We want progress, not pessimists.

— Jan Urbano is a junior in biology. He can be reached at jurbano@utk.edu.