Saturday, May 16, 2009

Athletics in America

I love sports! I love playing them. I love watching them. And I love to attend sporting events. That just needs to be said before anything else.

My original intention with this blog was to inspire a few more people to be a little friendlier on the running trails. I had actually wanted to stay away from more serious subjects or really anything that might be polarizing. (For those that know me, not speaking my mind is very hard.) But some recent commentary during the NBA playoffs hit a nerve that fired a switch and now I cannot hold it in. So please, read what I have to say and comment.

During the second round of the NBA playoffs my favorite player, Dirk Nowitzki, in an interview commented on how the series of defenders he had faced were able to guard him well. He even went on to essentially complement them on their defense. In the media this was seen as a sign of weakness and Dirk was attacked for "giving fuel" to his opponents and bolstering their egos. Now, I can understand where some of the commentary is coming from; you don't want to give your opponent an instruction manual on how to play you. But it really irked me how so many of the commentators were saying that as a star athlete you should never admit or acknowledge anything that might suggest you are anything but the best player. This is where the floodgates were ripped open for me.

Every day we hear how athletics helps kids stay out of trouble and builds character. I am not saying that I completely disagree with that and I know that this is the case for a great number of folks. But I would have to say that the way we view and treat sports, from little league up to professional levels, really only makes sports a positive for a very select few. I hope that I never have the type of "character" that does not allow me to congratulate someone for doing something better than I can. ESPECIALLY if I participate in the same activity.

Competition is a good thing and can teach people a lot about themselves and life. Sports are a great arena to teach this, but far too early it becomes solely about winning and not about having fun. What the competition in sports can teach us is that is the game is played the right way you can take pride and knowledge away from even a loss. And at the end of the day, it is just that, a game, and should be done because you enjoy it and for that reason alone. When we put the emphasis on winning at such an early age we create an environment where kids are self conscious about their athletic ability by the time they reach kindergarten. So unless you are one of the fortunate few that show great athleticism at an early age I could not imagine that you would grow up thinking that sports builds character much less keep you out of trouble.

As things are setup now, and reaffirmed through the commentary on a basketball star complimenting a competitor, athletics is breeding a society of egotistical bullies and alienating a much larger percentage of the population. "I'm just not that good at it," should never be a reason to not do a sport if you have fun doing it.

So there you have it. My take on athletics in America. I will still watch sports and I will still love playing them. I am sure that many of you have some thoughts on this and I would love to hear them. In the meantime, run friendly! -Tanner

1 comment:

  1. Agreed! Soccer taught my family a lot and kept me and my sister out of trouble. My parents watched us play for years and then decided to join a league too.

    Dustin tried to play baseball when he was 8 and the whole league reeked of that ego-bully attitude and the parents were AWFUL.

    He tried soccer for a few years when he was 6. That league was much better. The only complaint I had about that league was they obsessed about giving the kids treats and gatorade at every juncture.