I don’t know whether I was watching Rudy or a(nother) lop-sided Saturday afternoon loss on NBC, but a few years back I was reminded of something about Notre Dame of which I am an unabashed supporter.  As corny as it sounds, the thing I love is the “play like a champion today” sign that hangs over the stairway that leads from the ND locker room to the football field.   As explained here and here, its origin is apparently something of a mystery, but Lou Holtz had the sign put up in 1986 and players have been hitting it on their way onto the field ever since as a reminder to, well, play like a champion.  When I heard about it, the echoes of my high school tennis coach started ringing in my ears.  Be a champion.  Why not? Why not today? Why not this game?  If you came to play, you might as well work harder than your opponent and win.  Make it happen.  Needless to say, I have embraced the message of The Sign.

 My wife and I talk to our kids about maximizing the gifts they’ve been given—both the god-given ones and the opportunities (such as they are) that their having won the birth lottery have given them.  Getting kids to work hard enough to find out how good they can be at something, be it guitar, golf, tennis, singing, geometry, drawing, or making their beds isn’t a battle for the faint of heart.  The general malaise of adolescence can be a very tough opponent, not to mention all the other competing interests that keep the young mind distracted.  Looking for a way to enhance our message to them, I thought of The Sign.

 The thing I like about it is that the format is flexible enough to accommodate and motivate almost any activity.  My son had a “Study like a champion today” sign over his desk. During my employed days I would occasionally break out the “Bank like a champion today” sign to inspire impressionable junior colleagues.  There was even a “Cook like a champion today” sign over the stove for a while.  Ok it only lasted until my wife saw it and gave me the “you’re an idiot” look of pity that I’ve become so accustomed to, but still it was there! 

I suppose there are some limitations to the form.  I’m not sure “litigate like a champion today” works so well.  Nor does “develop commercial real estate like a champion today” or “write ad copy like a champion today”.  They just don’t sing, do they?  I don’t think hookers would have much use for it either.  Having a sign taped to the bordello ceiling saying “[Screw] like a champion today” may be a great conversation starter, but I doubt its motivational quality. (And yes, this represents the longest set up for a joke in blogging history.) 

So take The Sign and make it your own.  Inspire yourself and those around you to be the best at whatever it is you do, even you blog reading hookers.  Do more than you thought possible.  Why not you?  Why not now?

3 Responses to _______ LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY

  1. Dennis Ryan says:

    You, my good brother, are a genius. A twisted, offbeat genius, but a genius nonetheless.

    I put this inside my workplace conference room–it makes the Michigan fans who I work with absolutely nuts.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I would love to make a sign like this for my husband. What font did you use?

    • Mark Wegener says:

      Sad to say, it’s simply Comic Sans. I tried but couldn’t find the actual font used for the sign–probably because it’s hand painted. The background is RGB 204/153/0, and the font color is 0/0/102. Thanks for reading and [sign paint] like a champion today!

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