Posted by: seanmking | April 15, 2010

Reigniting the Passion!


UPDATE ( April 14th)

As we discussed in class, I am going to look at if professional athletes are still as passionate about their sport as they once were.  Every year millions of kids start playing basketball, soccer, baseball, etc.  Beyond innate ability, there is a drive in some kids that allows them to succeed in ways that 99% of us don’t.  I plan on looking at when they realized that they were good enough to turn their passion into a career.  I also plan on asking them how being paid to do something that most people do for fun has changed their attitude towards playing their sport.  As the one presenter said, they found what they loved and “monetized” it.

As part of the collaborative, open-source ethic that we read about, I would like to ask the class for any professional athletes that they know and I could possibly get in contact with.  If you know anyone that would be willing to talk with me for a short amount of time please either comment on my post or bring it up in class, it would be much appreciated.


After digesting your comments I have decided to go ahead with my original idea.  According to The Hacker Ethic, the primary motivation for hackers is to create something that will be seen as valuable by one’s peer community.  A lot of the comments that I received were from people who have gone through the same realization that I have.

I think my project could take a two-pronged approach.  First, look at what makes professional athletes able to put in hours that the average athletes does not.  Second, to see how athletics play a role in the lives of former student-athletes.  At this point I’m planning on writing a paper combining the research I do along with research that is already out there.

Growing up, soccer was my passion.  Every day, my brother and I would come home from school and spend hours in our backyard pretending we were our favorite soccer players.  We would practice ridiculous plays, joke around, and fully take on the hacker ethic in our ‘training’.  Many of the moves we practiced could never be used in a game, but rather were shown before practice or in-between games to gain status among other players.
Some time during my college career, soccer was no longer the sport I loved to play.  The creativity and passion was gone and it became my duty to play.  During my four-year career I have seen players quit because it felt like a job, and other players that only stayed on for the camaraderie.  Their lifelong passion was gone, but they loved the team too much to quit.
For my project I would like to talk to scholar-athletes–from all different types of sports–that have graduated and see how much their former passion is still a part of their lives.  I plan on asking them how much they play their particular sport, in what form, and why they still play.
Also, I plan to ask my brother and his teammates on the Seattle Sounders if they still have the passion for the game or if they just play for the paycheck.  I think this will be particularly interesting because almost everyone would love to be a professional athlete.  In professional sports you can see how the players that that make it to the top and stay there are the players that keep the passion and love the sport they play.  This is obvious from watching players like Zinedine Zidane and Michael Jordan.  These players always played with smiles on their faces and rose to the top of their respective sports and will remain there as legends.
The ultimate goal of my project is to see how former student-athletes transitioned from playing competitively in college to playing for fun—even if its semi-competitively—in the real world.  I hope that from talking with former student-athletes, to be able to regain my love for playing soccer and the passion that used to captivate me when I was younger.
By April 9th I would like to have the list of questions I will originally ask the former student-athletes as well as the set of questions I will ask my brother and his teammates.  By April 16th I will—either through email or phone interviews—have asked my interviewees my questions and analyze the responses that have come in.  If necessary, I will follow-up with some of the interviewees and begin incorporating the responses into a final paper and presentation to the class.



  1. Is this your brother?

  2. Do you think it’s possible for us to transition from one work ethic to another because of external forces? Or does the change only occur when we change (internal forces)? Or is it a combination of both?

  3. I can definitely relate to this. I loved playing baseball when I was a little kid. I love the competition, being outside, and the game itself. Part of the reason I stopped playing in college was because I felt like I didn’t need it anymore. I had lost the passion that had always driven me. I was no longer excited for every game like I used to be when I was younger. What I realized was that when I stopped playing I kept getting the itch to play. I feel like when you are playing you take it for granted and you don’t realize how much you actually enjoy the game until you stop playing.

  4. I am wondering if there is some sort of quality that certain individuals (i.e. Michael Jordan) possess that makes them love their sport forever. Although all student athletes are passionate at some point about their sport, what causes some to continue indefinitely. It would be great if you could find some sort of overarching common characteristic shared by those who have made their sport a lifelong passion.

  5. This is a topic I have always thought about exploring. I have recently rejoined the varsity lacrosse team, but during my year out I thought in great length about my collegiate athletic experience and whether it was a good thing or not. I am very interested to see the responses you get from people–I think it depends a lot if the coach likes you too. This seems cool.

  6. I think you have identified a large part of the durability of the attractiveness of sports. Much of the hand wringing over salaries and “juicing” seem to me to make a lot of sense seen form the perspective of the hacker ethic. Also, sports, like many other industries and activities, has massive profit motivated effects wrapped around a core of passionate, creative activity. Hinammen is a bit mute about how one’s personal ethics for a Hacker-y work ethic can be sustained in the face of such powerful economic forces, not to mention the on-going dominance of the protestant work ethic.

    You say you hope to regain your own passion for soccer. Why? How might that be an outcome from this project?

    What form will the final product take? You are not limited to a paper.

    You might want to look at work by Csíkszentmihályi. I think he is a sports psychologist and wrote at least one influential book called Flow. Also, the book Presence by Peter Senge and others might be relevant.

  7. Hey Jordi,

    I thin I might have the answer to an idea you brought up about Sean’s post. You wrote,

    “Hinammen is a bit mute about how one’s personal ethics for a Hacker-y work ethic can be sustained in the face of such powerful economic forces”

    In The Hacker Ethic, Hinammen quickly address whats he describes as the Capitalist Hacker Ethic on pg. 55. This idea blends wells with Sean’s idea of playing for passion vs. money.

  8. Sean- Why not make a new post for athlete suggestions?

    I was thinking of Chris McNaugton- former BU Basketball player.

    I have a distant connection to Chad Pennington who was NY Jets QB. He went to my HS, many years behind me, but, hey, you never know.

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