Maybe It’s a “You” Thing OR Eliminate the Hate
Ed Kornoelje DO, Metro Health Sports Medicine
Compete: strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. While one can compete in many areas of life, we often view competition through the lens of athletics—as participants, spectators and coaches. One thought notably absent from the definition is how the competing is done, namely the attitude of the competitor. And while one can compete with any sort of attitude, I submit competition is a lot more rewarding when there is a little fun involved.
Every June the Meijer State Games of Michigan occur in West Michigan. An Olympic style event with over 7,500 participants, competition is abundant. From 5K to rugby to baseball, individuals and teams compete to be the best, to “establish superiority.” Coaches coach and spectators cheer, and everyone has a good time—or do they? As medical director I have the opportunity to visit many of the venues as a neutral party and watch what goes on. Most of the time it is good—positive coaches and spectators cheering on willing participants. But at times things can get a little sideways—an iffy call by an official or a player not doing something they were taught causes cheers to turn into boos and positive coaching into yelling. When this happens, whose problem is it? Well the person making the mistake, of course. Or is it? If you are the spectator or coach with this type of attitude I think in most cases this may be a “you” thing.
What is a you thing? It goes something like this: When a bad call occurs and you yell at an official, that’s a you thing. When one of your athletes makes a mistake and you yell at them in anger, that’s a you thing. And when before the contest even starts you are complaining about the field, the weather, the tournament…that’s (you guessed it) a you thing. You may think it’s someone else’s fault, but it is really on you. While sports are important, they rarely, if ever, are important enough to cause one to get angry. And if you do, maybe you need to look at your attitude or life and make some adjustments. (And I’m not talking about getting mad at yourself when you let yourself or team down—sometimes this type of anger can be pretty self-motivating)!
The Olympics in Rio highlight other “you” situations: If you feel the need to tweet about a gymnast’s hair, that’s a you thing. If you feel the need to tweet about giddy gymnasts and Bob Costas interviewing them, that’s a you thing. The problem with this type of chatter is not only does the person sitting next to you hear your opinion, a lot of other people do as well, including the people you are talking about. In the “old” days prior to social media, if you had an opinion that may or may not matter, you were not able to broadcast it immediately. Really, do we all need to know your opinion on this type of thing!
The common thread in these scenarios is hate. Some may think this is too strong a word to use here, but if you yell in anger at an official or player, or tweet to thousands (or more) people mocking a teenager, you tell me what to call it. I am all for opinions, but opinions that matter. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it,” may be a bit trite (and sometimes there is a need for direct and tough opinions), but it holds an element of truth. Another way to think about this is to reverse the roles—would you like what you are going to yell or tweet yelled or tweeted at you or your friends? Granted, this can be tricky. Most of the time you yell or tweet something it seems appropriate, even necessary, at the time you do it. After reflection, however, you may wonder why you did it, but the damage is done. Here’s something to consider: Don’t hit send! And don’t forget the corollary: Don’t say it!
Competition as a participant, coach or spectator can be lots of fun. It can bring people together by focusing on a common goal. But it can also bring out the worst in some—a few with loud voices or poor social media filters can ruin it for the rest. And truth be told we have all probably been down this road at some point (including me). Let’s all take a deep breath, eliminate the hate, and reflect. We can start another type of “you” thing: Is what I am doing or saying going to help you become a better person? If the answer is yes, then let everyone know!
If you do find yourself injured (or wondering whether you are or what you should do next), we have locations with sports med docs and physical therapists all over town—check us out metrohealth.net for more information. We are also seeing patients at the Metro Health Sports Medicine Center inside the Spartan Stores YMCA at the Metro Health Village. Call 252-SPRT (7778) for more information or to schedule an appointment. We will restart our Saturday morning hours at the Sports Medicine Center on Aug 27. We will be open to see athletes of all ages between 9-11 AM until the end of football season—feel free to call for an appointment or just walk in. And don’t forget about Injury Wise at Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids every Wednesday night from 6-8 PM. These are brief one on one sessions open to active individuals of all ages and sports. Contact Gazelle for more information.