Fri 2 May 2008
Today I received an email regarding sporting participants who get concussions. Attached was a “New York Times” online article regarding this problem. This email was about the lack of reporting the seriousness of the injuries by the injured players. These were the star players who thought they would be sidelined if they showed the symptoms and likelihood of a concussion thereby letting their team down.
This problem should not arise for martial arts practitioners but I mention it for the simple reason that many young students practice organized sports in addition to martial arts. I’ve, on occasion, observed a macho streak running through much of organized sports and I call it the “win at all costs” syndrome. And I remember that attitude as the primary cause of “Watergate.”
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of great coaches working with thousands of impressionable athletes. And some of those coaches may lack the proper foresight to understand what they produce when they drive their charges to give “all” for the sake of the team. A strong mind in a strong body is a great and worthy goal, however reason must be applied as well. One evening back in the seventies I had a conversation with a local radio commentator regarding the vulnerability of youthful minds when they are not properly directed. I discuss this incident on page 97 in a chapter of my book, “Stepping Off the Mat.” In another section of the book (page 85) I describe a televised basketball game. Actually, I did not see the game. It was a televised news item which showed a player acting like a dog urinating on the sideline to distract the other team as the ball was being inbounded. The chances are slim that the coach of that team did not know about the tactic. I entitled that chapter “Ethics and Sportsmanship,” and ended it with an open letter to my sons on attitude and altitude and I published it in my company newsletter.
If martial arts instructors do nothing other than teach self-protection, I pray that they at least teach by example how to conduct one’s life honorably. Martial arts’ training does not produce students of good character; Training under an instructor of good character produces students of good character. Children pay more attention to what you do than what you say. Change the word “children” to “people in general.” If one wishes to change the world, start by changing self.
I believe the world is getting better, are you working in that direction or the opposite?