99+ Richard Ford Quotes on People, The Sportswriter and Life - Quotes.pub

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Athletes, by and large, are people who are happy to let their actions speak for them, happy to be what they do. As a result, when you talk to an athlete, as I do all the time in locker rooms, in hotel coffee shops and hallways, standing beside expensive automobiles—even if he’s paying no attention to you at all, which is very often the case—he’s never likely to feel the least bit divided, or alienated, or one ounce of existential dread. He may be thinking about a case of beer, or a barbecue, or some man-made lake in Oklahoma he wishes he was waterskiing on, or some girl or a new Chevy shortbed, or a discothèque he owns as a tax shelter, or just simply himself. But you can bet he isn’t worried one bit about you and what you’re thinking. His is a rare selfishness that means he isn’t looking around the sides of his emotions to wonder about alternatives for what he’s saying or thinking about. In fact, athletes at the height of their powers make literalness into a mystery all its own simply by becoming absorbed in what they’re doing. Years of athletic training teach this; the necessity of relinquishing doubt and ambiguity and self-inquiry in favor of a pleasant, self-championing one-dimensionality which has instant rewards in sports. You can even ruin everything with athletes simply by speaking to them in your own everyday voice, a voice possibly full of contingency and speculation. It will scare them to death by demonstrating that the world—where they often don’t do too well and sometimes fall into depressions and financial imbroglios and worse once their careers are over—is complexer than what their training has prepared them for. As a result, they much prefer their own voices and questions or the jabber of their teammates (even if it’s in Spanish). And if you are a sportswriter you have to tailor yourself to their voices and answers: “How are you going to beat this team, Stu?” Truth, of course, can still be the result—“We’re just going out and play our kind of game, Frank, since that’s what’s got us this far”—but it will be their simpler truth, not your complex one—unless, of course, you agree with them, which I often do. (Athletes, of course, are not always the dummies they’re sometimes portrayed as being, and will often talk intelligently about whatever interests them until your ears turn to cement.)