The 50 Most Inspirational Sports Quotes in History
As we look back on an emotional sports history, memories of the most encouraging, brave and genuine sportsmen start to flood the scene.
Emotion in athletics is like sand in the desert, but that's not what has us craving the next motivational statement, the next enthusiastic leader.
It's the euphoric speeches that have us enamored, the breathtaking statements that somehow get us riled up and excited for what we now believe is possible.
With just several syllables, many sports icons have cemented their legacies and left a framework for how to lead.
Let's look back on the 50 most inspirational sports quotes history.
Grab a tissue and several punching bags, it's about to get feisty in here.
50. Knute Rockne
One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.
49. Doug Williams
Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.
48. Matt Biondi
Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.
47. Marv Levy
Football doesn't build character, it reveals character.
46. Emil Zatopek
An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.
45. Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Age is no barrier. It's a limitation you put on your mind.
44. Bo Jackson
Set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there.
43. Paul "Bear" Bryant
It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.
42. Tommy Lasorda
The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination.
41. Laird Hamilton
Make sure your worst enemy doesn't live between your own two ears.
40. Billie Jean King
Champions keep playing until they get it right.
39. Mark Spitz
If you fail to prepare, you're prepared to fail.
38. Andre Agassi
What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.
37. Mary Lou Retton
A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.
The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.
35. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.
34. Mickey Mantle
During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.
33. Eddie Robinson
Leadership, like coaching, is fighting for the hearts and souls of men and getting them to believe in you.
32. Arthur Ashe
You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.
31. Arnold Palmer
Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.
30. Homer Rice
You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self motivation.
29. Lou Holtz
Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.
28. Mike Singletary
Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.
27. Gordie Howe
You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a one hundred percent effort that you gave–win or lose.
26. Lou Brock
Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time.
25. The Mind of a Greg Jennings
I put the team on my back doh.
(link video NSFW)
24. Mario Andretti
If you have everything under control, you're not moving fast enough.
23. Ted Williams
Just keep going. Everybody gets better if they keep at it.
22. Picabo Street
To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.
21. Ronnie Lott
If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.
20. Larry Bird
Push yourself again and again. Don't give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.
19. Dean Smith
What do do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.
18. Muhammad Ali
I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."
17. Joe Namath
If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?
16. Tom Landry
I've learned that something constructive comes from every defeat.
15. Lance Armstrong
Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.
14. Evander Holyfield
It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.
13. Joe Paterno
The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.
12. Bobby Knight
Your biggest opponent isn't the other guy. It's human nature.
11. Babe Ruth
Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.
10. Pat Riley
There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either IN or you're OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between.
9. Satchel Paige
Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.
8. John Wooden
Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do.
7. Jack Dempsey
A champion is someone who gets up when he can't.
6. Yogi Berra
It ain't over till it's over.
5. Michael Jordan
I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 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.
4. Mike Ditka
You're never a loser until you quit trying.
3. Vince Lombardi
It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get up.
2. Wayne Gretzky
You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.
1. Jim Valvano
Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.