When I woke up Monday morning, I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about this week. But then I learned more about the confrontation between Juwan Howard of Michigan and Greg Gard of Wisconsin at a basketball game.
Howard got angry about a late timeout and ended up hitting a Wisconsin coach with an open hand. I also read about a USPHL player who assaulted a referee. Later in the week, I heard that two school districts in Minnesota had decided not to play teams from a community that had several incidents of racial slurs.
It’s hard to feel hopeful when I hear these stories. Sometimes it makes me feel hopeless, and I’m sure it has a similar impact on many of you.
These stories trouble me. They all have one thing in common — an inability to maintain composure and be calm, an inability to think about the long-term consequences, and the impact their actions will have on others.
The reaction to the Michigan and Wisconsin story has prompted many reactions. Some have suggested that we eliminate handshake lines to avoid the possibility of confrontation. Can we lower expectations any further and just stay calm? The expectation is to be nice for less than 10 seconds. We should expect more from our leaders and ourselves. Listen to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo’s reaction to this idea.
There are quite a few commentaries floating around that try to determine the bigger villain.
But the underlying problem is the meaning made out of the actions — not who the villain is.
The excuse I often hear is that someone acted disrespectfully, and the other person feels the need to respond. But no one makes you do anything. You can choose how you respond when you feel like someone disrespects you.
I don’t have all the answers. One answer I do have is that you can control where you shine your light, and influence your corner of the world. All I can control is me, and my reaction to it. The same goes for you. I’m scared that staying calm is actually now a superpower. It’s not.
As a coach, parent, athlete or spouse, if you know you lose it too easily, look in the mirror. Ask for help. Educate yourself. You can learn to rewire your brain. It may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility to be better. No one is immune to doing the work, so be proactive and work on it. You are way less likely to embarrass yourself.
Learning how to manage yourself and your reactions does not make you weak. It makes you strong.