Sports. The highs, the lows, the weird, the unbelievable, and everything in between. I love it!
It’s hard to get anything other than cliches out of athletes. Over time, there have been hundreds of brilliant quotes come from them like this one from Lou Piniella.
I enjoy a good sports quote, often using a motivational sports quote as a mantra for long runs. What you’ll find in this post are 100 quotes organised into categories.
The Greatest Sports Quote Of All Time
1. “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” – Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela may not be a pro athlete but these words at the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards (2000) in Monaco make for the greatest sports quote of all time. The full speech is below.
Motivational Sports Quotes
Motivation: the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way.
Motivational in an adjective of motivation. I mention the definition as there is a difference between motivation and inspiration. When it comes to sports quotes it’s tricky to sort them so I’ve done my best based on their definitions.
3. “But I think when we play so often in finals, I think it adds something to the game, you know, because people sometimes miss it and sometimes they don’t have it and they want it, and when they have it, they don’t want it. It’s kind of very strange how that goes.” – Roger Federer
7. “In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness, and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?” – Jesse Owens
10. “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. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?” ― Lance Armstrong
Lance devastated the world when he confessed to cheating with drugs. But he has continued on with life, not quitting and now I really enjoy his podcast.
12. “I want to be a dad, first and foremost. I want to be a good father. I’ve spent so much of my life on the move and travelling around the world that just to set up a home for my family and be a good dad is something that motivates me.” – Ricky Ponting
14. “I met a young kid who was undergoing chemotherapy, and Dad would tell me he was on his deathbed. I called him and spoke to him and he’d been watching the races. Then seven months later he was at school, and that’s powered him through. I don’t understand it, but there is power in what we are doing, and power in families being together.” – Lewis Hamilton
15. “You can’t always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response. Your options are to complain or to look ahead and figure out how to make the situation better.” ― Tony Dungy
30. “Leading a healthy, active lifestyle is all about momentum. If I’m in the middle of training it’s easy for me to keep that up. It gets tough when I’m on a break. I just try to start my day with a good breakfast and a quick walk, something simple that gets the day off on the right foot. The more I do that, the more I make healthy choices that reflect the good choices made earlier.” — Natalie Coughlin
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Inspirational Sports Quotes
Inspiration: an inspiring or animating action or influence.
As inspirational is the adjective, these inspiring quotes can influence us from the outside. Motivation is more an internal thing. Confusing huh!
40. “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.” – Babe Ruth
44. “I’ve missed more than 9000 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.” – Michael Jordan
51. “I was very against pink and purple when I was young, because they were girls’ colors. But that was only because I didn’t want people to write me off for what I can do. When I got into my 20s, I decided that was stupid.” – Danica Parick
58. “People want to project their own insecurities on others, but I refuse to allow them to put that on me. Just because you don’t think that you could be the best in the world doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have the confidence to believe I can do anything.” ― Ronda Rousey
This short sports quote is a principle we should all live by. I’ve always admired athletes who can ‘hate’ their opposition on the field, but as soon as the final whistle sounds can be friends and have a beer.
63. “This whole journey was never about making a roster or being on a team. It was about giving myself an opportunity. I wanted to take a risk, put myself out there and put my faith in action. Faith without action is dead. This whole journey, I’ve never felt so alive.” – Jarryd Hayne
65. “Aim high and don’t sell yourself short. Know that you’re capable. Understand that a lot of people battle with a lot of things – depression, body image or whatever else – so know that it’s not just you. You’re not alone.” – Holly Holm
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Funny Sports Quotes
These are some of the top sports quotes. Pure comedy! Some intentional, some not. Not all quotes on sports come out as intended lol.
71. “For me once I go out there to America I’m pretty much representing all of New Zealand because most people haven’t met New Zealand people, so I have to take that into consideration. If I’m a dick, then they’re like New Zealand guys are dicks.” – Steve Adams
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Awesome Sports Quotes
These quotes from athletes could be used as inspiration or motivation, but they don’t really fit the bill imo. They are more straight awesome and show how sports plays a role in bringing the world together to learn about one another.
Lynch is referring to Sam Burgess. Sam broke his jaw in the first minute of a rugby league grand final which is what Lynch is attempting to describe. Check out the video below! Rugby League is a brutal sport.
79. “When you do something good, the Argentine people really attach themselves to you. They have so many problems back there that they’re looking for somebody to be proud of. I think about that, and I won’t forget it.” – Manu Ginobili
82. “My parents always told me to be the same person no matter if you’re No.1 in the world or No. 1000. It doesn’t matter. Always be polite and always be respectful towards others. If people don’t want to be respectful towards me I can’t do anything about it. I’m just going to smile and say ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’, but at the end of the day you can’t make everyone happy.” – Caroline Wozniacki
86. “The Spirit of Sports: The spirit of sports gives each of us who participate an opportunity to be creative. Sports knows no sex, age, race or religion. Sports gives us all the ability to test ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally in a way no other aspect of life can. For many of us who struggle with ‘fitting in’ or our identity – sports gives us our first face of confidence. That first bit of confidence can be a gateway to many other great things!” – Dan O’Brien
Just be a nice person. That’s what was said on my home page before the current edition was changed in mid-2017.
90. “The one thing I said all along in the build-up (to game three when the ages of many Maroons players were heavily questioned) is you cannot buy understanding. It either exists or it doesn’t.” – Wally Lewis
Dennis is talking about North Korea here. While his visits are often controversial, in my opinion, he really is trying to do some good in the world. Nelson Mandela believes it’s possible!
This was the day after Ernie Els six-putted the first green at The Masters. Even the best in the world can do things amateurs assumed was impossible.
97. “Fans still talk about my big white scrunchie, which became iconic in its own right. I loved that scrunchie and its little sparkles that Peggy glued on herself. Without my scrunchie, I wouldn’t have felt ready to compete. (Yes, I still have it.)” ― Shannon Miller
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Best Sports Quotes From Autobiographies I’ve Read**
In addition to watching sports, I like to read sports autobiographies (and memoirs) from people inside the sports industry. I’m always highlighting bits and pieces of what I like when reading. Below are a few that I want to share in this list.
98. “Three hundred and eighty matches a year. And I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it.” – Ric Flair in To Be The Man
99. “At this level, with so many physical talents all capable of doing the same things, the mental side was the separator.” – Dirk Hayhurst in Bigger Then The Game
100. “I continued to call every week until I finally caught him. I think it’s safe to say that this is where I began to learn that persistence pays off.” – Justin Roberts in Best Seat In The House
101. “Nothing is every predetermined. It’s a constant reminder to work hard, stay focused and never believe that your future is assured.” – Tim Cahill
102. “It didn’t matter what obstacle was in front of us, we’d always carry on to the end. ‘Foxes never quit’ is the slogan above the tunnel at the King Power Stadium, and we followed that to the letter.” – Jamie Vardy
103. “The sportsman has something special inside of him that takes over in difficult situations. I was driven on by the desire, the passion, the feeling, and the pride of being a footballer.” – Andre Iniesta
104. “We all come from the same kind of families, that struggled and fought. And if you bring together people whose mentalities and experiences are the same, whose obsessions are shared, you have a big advantage.” – Luis Suarez
105. “In every game you play you face players also trying their best to win and to fulfil their own lifelong ambitions and dreams. As much as you try, sometimes things go wrong. There are things that are beyond our control. That’s why we always have to be physically and mentally prepared to the best of our ability, because when it’s your turn, you have to give all you can. And you may never get another chance.” – Neymar Jr.
106. “It’s crucial to me that if I can personally change something, that’s what I’ll do. But with actions, not by talking big. I know that my visit didn’t make the world a better place, and it would be naïve to think so. But I’m proud to have given those children a brief moment of happiness.” – Mesut Ozil
107. “It is only natural that you will be disappointed when you make a mistake. But you cannot allow the negativity to consume you, just as you cannot get too excited when you have had a special game or pulled off a great save. They are just two sides of the same coin and sometimes the coin goes for you and on other occasions, it goes against you.” – Pepe Reina
108. “In order to pass through such a narrow gate, it is important to have a clear vision of how you’re going to reach a higher standard from an early stage in your development. How far you go depends to a large extent on how high you set your goal as well as the actions you take to reach it.” – Maya Yoshida
** will update this section from time to time
I’ve never been fond of cheesy quotes about travel. Yet I can apply pretty much all the above quotes to many of my past journeys and ones I will have going forward.
What is the most relatable sports quote for you?