By Eliana Bane, Marketing Intern
“These young guys are playing checkers. I’m out there playing chess.” ~Kobe Bryant
Many sports players acknowledge the skill, strategy and technique that is needed to play chess. Kobe Bryant is known as one of the best players that played in the NBA. He appeared in 15 All-Star Games, won four All-Star Game MVP Awards, and two NBA Finals MVP Awards. Bryant achieved greatness. His basketball skills were spectacular and he dominated the court. Kobe Bryant parallels basketball to chess. He says, “…I’m out there playing chess”, showing that he feels he is one step ahead of his opponents. While Kobe Bryant was not a chess player, his mindset was in line with a chess game, staying ahead of your opponent and recognizing their next move.
The second athlete of this week’s Sports and Chess edition is Shaun Alexander. He is a former running back for the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins. In 2005, Alexander became the first Seahawk to win the MVP award. Along with Alexander’s football skills, he is an avid chess player. He started playing chess in junior high and in around 2005 was named to the board of America’s Foundation for Chess. Shaun Alexander donated thousands of dollars to develop a chess program for students to encourage them to stay in school and to get educated.
One day after the Hawks first Super Bowl win, Alexander went to Madrona Elementary School in Seattle to give out prizes for the winners of the chess tournament that was created by America’s Foundation for Chess. He also raffled a trip, all-expenses paid, to Hawaii, to watch him play in his 3rd Pro Bowl. Shaun Alexander says, “ ‘Chess teaches them to think ahead three or four moves. It teaches them to have a vision. They learn to say to themselves, ‘If I make this move, this will happen.’ Those are things kids don’t get on their own.’”.