SERIES: The power of sport – The Challenges, Part I of III

Part 1: The challenges

Being in a new and different country can be challenging no matter how well traveled a person is. A new country poses problems like language barriers and lack of knowledge about local cultural customs and norms which can lead to many problems.

These problems are often compounded when the person in the new country is an athlete and must face these challenges while also trying to play their sport at the highest possible level.

Athletes playing in foreign countries are not a new or uncommon thing and there are athletes from many different sports playing in countries different from their own around the world. Some of the most common instances of athletes playing in different countries are American basketball players playing in leagues across Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and even China. Another common example of players playing in different countries is the multitude of players from Caribbean, Latin and South American countries immigrating to the United States in order to pursue careers in baseball.

Many of these players are extremely poor and sign small contracts to play baseball in the States without speaking a word of English. While in the minor leagues, these players often have to room with host families, who open up their homes for little or nothing in return.

host families
A host family with their host players. Photo courtesy of northwoodsleague.com

Hines Ward, who played professional American football for 14 years and was considered to be one of the best in the game at his peak, was no different than many other multi-cultural and culturally mobile athletes in that he faced plenty of adversity during his upbringing.

Part two of this series will examine the challenges Ward faced and how he overcame them to become a World Champion.


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