Professional Sports Icons Are Just Like Businesspeople

Professional Sports Icons Are Just Like Businesspeople

Wayne Gretzky #99 of the Edmonton Oilers throws his hands in the air after the Oiler score against the New York Islanders in the 1984 NHL Stanley Cup Finals.

Image credit: Focus On Sport | Getty Images
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Business and professional sports share a lot of similarities. They both require intense training and preparation in order to excel. And the fierce competition that results produces both winners and losers. 

Related: 50 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate You

No wonder entrepreneurs can learn a lot from top elite athletes: The same work ethic and determination that propels professional athletes to the top can create successful entrepreneurs.

With the 2016 Major League Baseball season in full swing (and, hopefully, my Red Sox sitting at the top spot in the American League East, shortly), I decided to gather 30 motivational quotes from professional sports icons I believe can serve as inspiration for entrepreneurs.

1. "For me, winning isn't something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally every day that you train and every night that you dream." -- Emmitt Smith, former NFL running back

2. "Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly." -- Shaquille O'Neal, former NBA all-star

3. "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." -- the late Babe Ruth, major league baseball player

4. "To succeed . . . you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you." -- Tony Dorsett, former professional football player

5. "If you have everything under control, you're not moving fast enough." -- Mario Andretti, retired championship race car driver

6. "I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it." -- Gale Sayers, former professional football player

7. “'Impossible' is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” -- Muhammad Ali, world champion boxer

8. "You win some, lose some and wreck some." -- the late Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR driver

9. "Age is no barrier. It's a limitation you put on your mind." -- Jackie Joyner-Kersee, retired track and field athlete

10. "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." -- Michael Jordan, former professional basketball player

11. "Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is." -- the late Vince Lombardi, former head football coach

Related: Inspirational Quotes From 100 Famous Business Leaders (Infographic)

12. "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." -- Wayne Gretzky, former professional hockey player

13. "If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?" -- Joe Namath, former professional football player

14. “The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.” -- Steve Young, former professional football player

15. “Most talented players don’t always succeed. Some don’t even make the team. It’s more what’s inside.” -- Brett Favre, former professional football player

16. "Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates." -- Magic Johnson, former professional basketball player

17. “There may be people that have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” -- Derek Jeter, former New York Yankee shortstop

18. "There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either in or you're out. There is no such thing as life in-between." -- Pat Riley, former professional basketball player and coach

19. "Remember this. Hold on to this. This is the only perfection there is, the perfection of helping others. This is the only thing we can do that has any lasting meaning. This is why we're here." -- Andre Agassi, former professional tennis player

20. "My dad has always taught me these words: care and share. That's why we put on clinics. The only thing I can do is try to give back. If it works, it works." -- Tiger Woods, professional golfer

21. “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.” -- Michael Jordan, former professional basketball player

22. "The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination." -- Tommy Lasorda, former professional baseball player

23. "Set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there." -- Bo Jackson, former professional football and baseball player

24. “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” -- Mike Singletary, former professional football player

25. "Champions keep playing until they get it right." -- Billie Jean King, former professional tennis player

26. "I feel like I'm the best, but you're not going to get me to say that." -- Jerry Rice, former professional football player

27. “You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.” -- Michael Phelps, Olympic swimmer

28. "You have to have the mentality of executing your game when you don't feel like there's a lot of hope. I think the best feeling is when somebody pushes you to the limit and you dig down a little bit extra. By the same token, you also need a little luck. Sometimes they come together." -- Andre Agassi, former professional tennis player

Related: 8 Motivational Quotes for 2016

29. "In baseball and in business, there are three types of people. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happened." -- Tommy Lasorda, former professional baseball player

30. "The time when there is no one there to feel sorry for you or to cheer for you is when a player is made.” -- Tim Duncan, professional basketball player