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Why Athletes Matter

Zach Maurides is the founder and CEO of TeamWorks and a longtime friend of this site. He's also a former Duke offensive lineman who has made his life's work helping coaches and athletes do their jobs better and more efficiently.

In a recent town hall meeting, Maurides laid out his thesis of why athletes matter, telling stories of how the most physically gifted among us inspire us, teach us and lead us, teasing out a level of determination and perseverance we didn't know we had.

Tellingly, Maurides cites two examples of how society asks the athlete to accomplish something that political, business and religious leaders could not or would not do. In 1971, it was the United States ping pong team that visited Chinese soil for the first time in a generation, leading to a thaw in the two superpowers' relations a year later.

And earlier this year, it was the unification of the two Olympic teams from North and South Korea that provided the precursor for Kim Jong Un's unprecedented visit south.

In this 13-minute, TED-style talk, Maurides lays out exactly why athletes matter and what that means for society at large.