Top 5 Quotes in the History of Sports

For many of us, sports figures are among our heroes. We follow all of their moves on the fields of competition, and we delight in hearing their thoughts, explanations, and musings when they are not playing. Athletes, coaches, officials, and team owners are not always the most polished speakers, but they are often very entertaining.

Here are a few of the most interesting and perhaps thought provoking comments from some of our modern day gladiators.


5. Max Schmeling


Schmeling was a German boxer in the 1930’s. He is perhaps better known for defying Hitler by refusing to join the Nazi party.  He was also a humanitarian and philanthropist. Once after a boxing he match, he was asked why he wanted to win.

He responded, “Why did I want to win? Because I didn’t want to lose!” Hey, If you ask a silly question,……..


4. Vince Lombardi

Lombardi was the very picture of a coach. His Green Bay Packers won the very first Super Bowl. His methodical approach and belief in his system and his team were evidenced when he said:

We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.”


3. Pele

Argued to be the greatest soccer player ever, Pele gave his recipe for success when he said:

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do so.”


2. Earl WarrenEarl_Warren

Warren was a Governor of California and a Chief Justice of the United States. He was known for many things including his role in ending school segregation. It may seem odd to find him in this list, but he aptly cited one of the major enticements for having sports at all when he once gave this quip:

I always turn to the sports section first.  The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.


1. Woody Hayes

Hayes was the colorful and often controversial coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes for twenty-eight seasons during which his teams won three consensus National Titles. His tenure ended in 1978 after he punched an opposing player from Clemson during the Gator Bowl.

In the 1968 game against the archrival Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State had the game well in hand. After a late score, Woody opted to go for a two point conversion. When asked why he did it, he probably gave the single best quote in sports history (although feel free to argue that one) when he responded:

Because the rules won’t let you go for three.


Whether we chuckle at a pugilist’s mockery of a reporter, find inspiration from a coach’s steadfast belief, learn to excel because an icon encourages us to love what we do, ponder over our love of athletics through the words of a learned man, or marvel at the most extreme example of competitiveness, we love our sports and the people who play the games and enthrall us with their words.

About Doug Smith M.D.

Doug has been a full time physician for twenty-three years and continues to work in an emergency room setting. In addition to the day to day practice of medicine, he has a particular interest in medical education.
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