I once heard that success is when preparation meets opportunity or something like that, but what if that really means lucky timing? Swing your bat one hundredth of a second too fast and the ball goes foul. Get that feeling that the snap is on two and you get the jump on the guard, getting your sack and making ESPN's Top 10. Are these things skill or are they luck? Can the two really be differentiated?
Have you ever been late for something- a meeting or practice- and had whoever was in charge ask why you were late? Then when you answer them they tell you that they don't want an excuse? I always wondered, what's the difference between an excuse and a reason? I think that it just depends on who you ask. And it's the same way with luck and skill- "I can't believe that Carmello made that last second three pointer!" versus "Lucky son of a bitch!"
I'm not saying that David Ortiz has 37 homeruns and 105 RBIs because he's luckier at the plate than anyone else. You have to have the chops to be in the Big League anyway, no amount of luck (or supplementation?- not just Ortiz, but anyone) can take away from the fact that you can still hit a 95 mph fastball. Johan Santana doesn't have 160 strikeouts because he's luckier than the batters that he faces. He has 160 strikeouts because he can throw hard enough to throw through me.
What if it all goes deeper? Don't think of it as a present tense occurrence, what if- and assuming that luck even exists- luck only happens once, but it changes us forever? What if it is that we are lucky enough to get that coach or mentor or parent that notices and nurtures our talent? What if instead of pushing us too hard they push us just hard enough to make something special enough and fortunate enough to become a professional athlete? Luck isn't just about what might happen in the game. Remember, we have to get to the game first.