Connecting American youth and today’s athletes to cultivate character and community

Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt once convened a meeting of college and university Presidents to discuss the rules of football? And that he was the first American President to leave the country while in office (he traveled to Central America to inspect the construction of the Panama Canal) and the first American to be awarded a Nobel Prize? And that in 1910, a year after vacating the White House (TR was the first to use that moniker, too), he traveled to Paris and stood on the steps of the Sorbonne and delivered a two-hour address to a largely French audience? And they listened! The speech, of course, was “Citizenship in a Republic,” in which Roosevelt sounded a rousing call-to-arms for civic engagement and placed the responsibility for the betterment of society squarely on the shoulders of the individual. It is from that speech that the name of this organization, In the Arena, and many of its founding principles are drawn.

Roosevelt was an innovator, a writer and orator, a problem-solver, an athlete, a conservationist, a family man and above all, an engaged citizen. Given his adventurous, captivating and inquisitive manner, who better to serve as the progenitor of this organization’s mission, vision and implementation? In the Arena, its staff, Board, athletes and supporters, aims to stay true to Roosevelt’s vision of a constantly improving society in which character, courage and action are prized and in which each of us has an equal investment in the elevation of the whole.

If staying power is a barometer of truth and wisdom, then the following quote, as relevant today as it was a century ago, is axiomatic:

“It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

If you want to learn more about our country’s 26th President, we suggest starting with David McCullough’s Mornings on Horseback, and proceeding directly to Edmund Morris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and its sequel, Theodore Rex. If your TR thirst remains unslaked, the Library of America has published volumes of his letters and speeches, including of course, “Citizenship in a Republic.”

PDF of “Citizenship in a Republic”
PDF of all TR quotes

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