University of Tennessee women’s athletics director Joan Cronan has a hunch as to what sport Martin Luther King, Jr., would have excelled in had he tried.
“As I think about Martin Luther King, Jr., I’m sure he was a tennis player. In tennis, it is better to serve than to receive and what a tremendous service Martin Luther King, Jr., did for our world,”
Cronan was the keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day business luncheon. The event was held at Denso Manufacturing and more than 300 turned out for the event.
“Martin Luther King made a difference in all our lives. I like Martin Luther King more than I ever have,” she said.
Cronan quoted scripture from Luke 12:48: “From whom much is given, much is expected.”
“How much has been given to us because of people like Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she said. “He would want us to see what can we do to make life better.”
Cronan said that in the wilds of Africa, the gazelle wakes up and knows he must run faster than the fastest lion or it will die. A lion awakes and knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or the lion will die.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running,” she said. “I think about Martin Luther King and his drive.”
Cronan said her job in athletics taught her to produce winners. “My job is to win. My job is to produce winners,” she said. “Our role is to build champions while winning championships.”
Cronan said that while King had a dream he spoke of on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, she had a dream as a little girl that eventually shaped what she would become as an adult. She wanted to play baseball with the boys because she knew she could beat them, but they wouldn’t allow her to compete. “At 12, I knew I wanted to be in the business of teaching women to compete,” she said.
Cronan said society has come a long way since then in how men view women’s athletics. Often when Cronan gets on an airplane and introduces herself to anyone sitting next to her she will be asked about coach Pat Summitt’s legendary stare. “It tells me everyone knows about women’s basketball.”
King’s goal was for society to be better, Cronan told her audience. “When you think about making a difference, we’re all about influencing people,” she said. “Martin Luther King had a dream for us. His dream was for us to be the very best we could be.”