The arena may just be a back yard. Up for grabs is not the world’s championship. Just bragging rights to who’s best on the block. It’s not a venue worthy of legendary prose. But it’s a place where legends often begin. Because from such beginnings, the taste of victory is first savored. That insatiable taste that instills the desire to be the best.

It’s more than all those sports page clichés of extra effort and 110%. The will to win is a work ethic. A dedication. A commitment to never giving up. Find these traits in an athlete, and you’ll find an athlete who’s the first one at practice. And the last one to leave. An athlete who toils away from the spotlight, perfecting those little nuances that can later make all the difference.

Though the odds are long of ever achieving fame and glory, this serves as little deterrent to this athlete. Because even when he faces others with more natural talent, he doesn’t let it affect his style of play. He persists when others quit. And that makes every victory, no matter how small, sweet. Sweet payment beyond measure for every drop of sweat spent.

And long after one’s athletic skills are eroded by time, the commitment stays within to face life’s professional and personal challenges. These are the ultimate games.