Posted: July 26, 2011 by John D. Hayden in Golf, Wrestling

Bob McPhee (Photo: Larry Slater (LBS Photo)

Adversity comes in all shapes and sizes. Adversity is distress, hardship, affliction and it is an unfortunate event or incident. Most of us has gone through some type of adversity in our lives. Hardships and trials come and go in a person’s life. I personally have overcome adversity in my life and as I write this I’m working through some distress that I’m going through right now.
There have been many stories of athletes who have overcome adversity and who are still struggling through hardships in their life. Look at Tiger Woods for example, in the past few years he has been going through hardship one right after another. Tiger used be on top of the world of golf, had a great life going until sin hit him right in the face. The media was all over the story of Tiger having a car accident, and than finding out that he was having multiple affairs and even went to a sex-rehab center for a few weeks. We thought for a moment that Tiger overcame this adversity in his life until recently he fired his caddie, Steve Williams who was by his side through all the hardships Tiger faced. Now there is a chance that Tiger is running low on cash since his divorce and has lost most of his sponsors. The latest news today is that the freefall continues, Tiger has dropped out of the world top 20 in golf. As Jay Busbee said on his blog Devil Ball Golf on Yahoo Sports, “We don’t need any more reminders of how far Woods has fallen. And although winning will solve many of his on-course ills, those days seem further away than ever before.”  Will Tiger ever overcome this adversity in his life? I think he will one day make a comeback and once again be recognized as one of the best golfers in the world.

There is a story of another athlete that we might not hear about as much as we do Tiger, his name is Bob McPhee. Bob was recently inducted at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame with honoring him with the Medal of Courage. Bob is originally from Rumford, Maine where he played both football and wrestling. Rumford High was a wrestling powerhouse where Bob lettered in football and wrestling. After one hit in a preseason game, Bob was taken to the hospital in the back of a pick up truck and was in a coma for 17 days. He wakes up out of the coma but can’t speak or move his arms because he suffered a brain stem injury. Adversity strikes Bob, who could have been the football captain,  and all he could do was lay in his bed paralyzed and moan. As he sits there he remembers what his baseball coach told him, ” “There will be times during your lifetime when you’ll be faced with a difficult task. A decision has to be made, either to avoid the situation or to approach it head on. If you choose the former, it will be that much easier to back away when you are confronted with a future problem.” (As Eric Adelson writes) Bob as been confined to a wheelchair for most of his life and has overcome adversity. He would attend college when everyone told him he couldn’t, he would start writing for the school newspaper even when the editor was suspended for having the staffers carry Bob down the stairs, he marries a occupational therapist who dumps him because she needs a real man, and lost a friend to cancer. Now Bob lives alone writing and describing games that might make another sports injury victim break down.

There is even a book about his life written by him, entitled, “It could be worse.” There after receiving his Medal of Courage from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Bob gives a speech that the toughest of athletes have to wipe the tears away from their eyes. “One of the most memorable statements I’ve ever heard from an honoree was when he signed off,” says Hall executive director Lee Roy Smith. “He said, ‘There are a lot of people worse off than I am.’ That shows what a character he is, what a hero he is. To see what he has to do to function — the coping skills, the attitude. He has all of the ingredients to be a great champion.” (As Eric Adelson writes)

We can learn a lot from both Tiger and Bob about overcoming adversity in our lives. They both are still going through hardships, one who has taken the it could be worse motto, and the other who needs to quit focusing on himself. Tragedy is not what happens to us; tragedy is failing to grow from what happens to us. And know, too, that our adversities are not always to be overcome. Sometimes we are asked to do something more difficult — we are asked to endure them. Adversity can teach us so much in our Christian walk. As adversity and our human strength is drained, Christ’s invitation becomes more attractive, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, andlearn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)   Will you accept Christ’s invitation and come to him when you are hurting, in distress, going through hardships, and trying to overcome our adversity? In these times we can either walk away from Him, or draw near to Him. We can learn a lot from Bob, It could be worse.

(Thanks to Eric Adelson for sharing with us Bob’s story)

  1. Hilary Ray says:

    Love this line: “Tragedy is not what happens to us; tragedy is failing to grow from what happens to us. ” Mr. McPhee sounds like he is one who really appreciates what he has..not worrying about what he doesn’t. What a great lesson! I hate when I see people struggling with their own tragedies/hardships/etc, but I will say that it does make me more mindful and appreciative for I have myself. So, in that regard, I think they serve a purpose to others. I pray I never take anything I have for you said it could be worse.. How sad it would be to realize what you had only after you’ve lost it. So much to be thankful for–both the great and bad times. Thank you for sharing this!

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