The last thing players see at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows before they emerge out of the tunnel to take centre court at the US Open is a quote from tennis legend, Billie Jean King.
It reads, ‘pressure is a privilege.’
The full quote is ‘pressure is a privilege – it only comes to those that earn it’.
If you’ve listened to Cats coach Chris Scott at all over the last month, it’s a theme he’s regularly returned to as his side hunts for the club’s 10th AFL premiership.
Three weeks ago, when Geelong fell just short of the Power at Adelaide Oval, Scott summoned King:
“We all feel pressure at this time of year, but I didn’t think we crumbled under pressure…It’s a privilege to be under that pressure and I thought we had our chances.”
And following the Qualifying Final win over the Magpies:
"If we feel a little bit of pressure, we should consider it a privilege. It's hard to get to this stage of the year. There are easier places to be at this time of the year.
Scott again returned to the theme in Friday’s press conference ahead of the club’s clash with the Lions tonight at the Gabba.
It’ll be the club’s tenth preliminary final appearance in 14 seasons, and with that, Scott has acknowledged, does comes pressure, but with it, an extraordinary opportunity.
And it’s this point that he has encouraged his players to focus on.
“You can either embrace that pressure and savour it for all that it’s worth, because it is a privilege to be in this position and a lot of teams fight hard to even get this opportunity,” he said yesterday.
With the Tigers already through, all eyes will be on the Gabba tonight to see which side can withstand the furnace that is preliminary finals footy.
The Cats come up against a hungry, young Brisbane side who’ll be facing their own form of pressure. Certainly, a chance to play the Grand Final on their home deck if they were to make it through, is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Pressure will be all around tonight, from the fans at home, to the coaches in the box and the players on the park, and once the ball is bounced, there is no pressure like preliminary final pressure, especially around the footy. Indeed, whoever wins the fight around the contest tonight will go a long way to booking their place in the big one next week.
And as the players gather in the Gabba tunnel tonight, they will have the words of their coach and Billie Jean King ringing in their ears.
Pressure is a privilege.
The Cats have earned the right to the feel the pressure, and from here, Scott’s instructions are clear:
“The best way to face it is head on.”