Citizenship in a Republic is the title of a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910.[1]

One notable passage from the speech is referred to as "The Man in the Arena":[2][3]

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, 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, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows 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 neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who lets refinement to develop in to fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a work day world

Someone who is heavily involved in a situation that requires courage, skill, or tenacity, as opposed to someone sitting on the sidelines and watching, is often referred to as "the man in the arena".

In popular culture

The "Man in the Arena" passage was quoted by another US president, Richard Nixon, both in his victory speech on November 6, 1968, and in his resignation address to the nation on August 8, 1974:[4]

Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, "whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood [...]"

Nelson Mandela gave a copy of this speech to François Pienaar, captain of the South African rugby team, before the start of the 1995 Rugby World Cup,[5] in which the South African side eventually defeated the heavily favoured All Blacks of New Zealand. In the film based on those events, the poem "Invictus" is used instead.

Mark DeRosa, an American professional baseball utility player then with the Washington Nationals, read the passage to teammates prior to the Nationals' pivotal Game Four versus the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2012 National League Division Series which was won on a walk-off home run by the Nationals' Jayson Werth. Since his days at the University of Pennsylvania, DeRosa would turn to those words before important games.

American scholar Brené Brown quotes the excerpt in the Netflix special The Call to Courage; she also used a somewhat abbreviated version of the quote in her March 2012 TED talk "Listening to Shame," and subsequently as the inspiration for the title of her book, Daring Greatly (2012).[3][6]

When then Ferrari Formula One driver Jean Alesi was about to start the last lap of the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix (which would become his only Grand Prix win), then ESPN commentator Bob Varsha used parts of Roosevelt´s speech, saying that Alesi looked a while like being the man Roosevelt had talked about.[7]

The "Man in the Arena" passage was used in a 2015 ad for Cadillac, ending with "dare greatly".[8]

At the 2016 Democratic National Convention President Barack Obama cited the speech in his endorsement speech of Hillary Clinton.

Lindsey Stirling's 2016 album release Brave Enough features a song titled "The Arena". The inspiration for this song comes from this speech. The music video for the track also starts out with a quotation from this speech.

LeBron James has #ManInTheArena written on his shoes.[9]

During the United States Naval Academy's Plebe Summer, incoming freshmen are encouraged to memorize "The Man in the Arena".[10]

At the annual CaseIT MIS Case Competitions, Dr. Peter Tingling, Associate Dean at Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business, retold the story of the "Man in the Arena" in the opening ceremony to inspire competitors.

See also


  1. ^ "The Man in the Arena". Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  2. ^ Works related to Citizenship in a Republic at Wikisource
  3. ^ a b Schawbel, Dan (2013-04-21). "Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  4. ^ Works related to Richard_Nixon's resignation speech at Wikisource
  5. ^ Dominic Sandbrook (30 January 2010). "British leaders: they're not what they were". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Archived from the original on 1 February 2010.
  6. ^ "Brené Brown: Listening to shame". Archived from the original on 2014-03-01. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  7. ^ "Alesi winning the 1995 Canadian Grandprix for Ferrari". YouTube.
  8. ^ David Gianatasio (February 18, 2015). "Ad of the Day: Cadillac's 'Dare Greatly' Launch Spot Has Teddy Roosevelt but No Car". Adweek.
  9. ^ Buffington, Randy. "LeBron James is the 'Man in the Arena'". Cleveland 19. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Words of Wisdom for Surviving Plebe Summer". USNI Blog. Retrieved 2021-01-19.