When does confidence become arrogance? Is a certain level of arrogance needed to do some things in life, like become an Olympic champion?
These are the questions that floated through my head as I watched Yevgeny Plushenko this week. I bow down to the guy’s skating prowess; nothing can take away from the fact that he’s one of the best figure skaters, as is evident by his numerous medals and titles. But with quotes like “If the Olympic champion doesn’t know how to jump a quad, I don’t know. Now it’s not men’s figure skating, now it’s dancing,” and “I was positive that I won. But I suppose Evan needs a medal more than I do,” it’s difficult not to think of the skater as arrogant. Now I’m not saying that being arrogant makes you less deserving of a medal (though we do tend to root for the nice guys, no?), but I genuinely wonder if/how that arrogance serves his performance.
As if those random thoughts weren’t enough to make my head ache at the midnight hour, I started thinking about the “defense” of Plushenko’s quad comment and, oddly enough, how the athlete compares to Shaun White (bear with me here). At the root of the Plushenko-Lysacek drama is Plushenko’s view that the quad means progress in the sport of men’s figure skating (and that a gold performance sans quad means a regression in the sport). I admittedly don’t know enough about the sport to have an opinion on that, but I was reminded of an interview with Shaun White, in which he discussed how he has furthered the sport of snowboarding. He said [approx. 4:15 of video] that in inventing new tricks, he basically takes ones that are already out there and just does them bigger and better. Perhaps some might see this as a statement of arrogance; I’m not one of those people. But that got me thinking about something else (aren’t you glad you’re on this ride of my stream of consciousness?). Does personality overshadow arrogance? If Shaun White did say something arrogant, would we forgive it – or even overlook it – because he’s so playful?
And here I’ll end my rambling to ask what you think. Is confidence sometimes misconstrued as arrogance? Does arrogance have its place? When is arrogance acceptable (if it is)?
PS. Way to go Team McCormick!