This week was meant to mark the return to writing and the publishing of our blogs. We try to provide a collection of thoughts on sports science, nutrition, coaching, and other disciplines that we use with our clients to improve their health, fitness and performance. As I sat down to write this week, I simply could not get my head to go in that direction.
When I woke Monday morning I was rocked by the news of the devastating events in Las Vegas. This is a little unusual for me, as I seem to have become desensitized to these types of things. They seem to happen too frequently, in places that I have never been and to people that I have no connection with for it to bother me to this extent. Somehow, this was different. I’m not sure if it is because at one point I was considering going to this festival, or if I am just becoming soft in my old age. But here I am, unable to shift my focus away from this, and I have this deep sense of sorrow for what is becoming of our world.
How do people develop so much hate? We have a person, one in which I will never utter his name, and I encourage you to do the same, that was so full of hate that he searched out the best situation to hurt as many people as possible. This was not an attack against country music fans, or Las Vegas, it was simply a general act of terrorism. The sole purpose was to hurt as many people as possible. Terrorism. White, Islamic, Black. It’s all the same. I don’t know the background of this person, and to be honest, I don’t want to give this sick bastard another second of my attention, but I have to assume that he was hurting so deeply that he felt this was his only way to confront his own demons. We have people, so called “very fine people”, who publicly gather to display their hatred of another group of humans, their neighbours. These outright demonstrations of hatred are protected in the US by the First Amendment, a crucial ideal to protect the values of our society and to engage in open discussion. And it is tolerated. Sure a fuss is made over it, but nothing of consequence will come of it. No change. We have athletes who are using their right to protest what they perceive as inequality, and they are called countless derogatory names, traitors, unpatriotic, all for exercising the same right to free speech as those “nationalists” who gathered to march in Virginia. They are told to “Stay in your lane.” “You’re just an athlete, so shut up and play.” They have basically been told that we don’t value your opinions, we don’t care for you, and in fact we hate you. The tension of hate in this world is so thick that it is palpable. It hangs in the air like a damp fog in late autumn. It is strangling the joy out of our lives. We are constantly living in fear, and this has to stop, and there needs to be an immediate change.
Thoughts and prayers are being sent out all over the world. Thoughts and prayers are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. How about we talk about policy and change? Thoughts and prayers won’t bring life back to the 59 that lost theirs in Las Vegas. They won’t make the lives of the over 500 people who were injured any better. Thoughts and prayers won’t keep them from waking up in the middle of the night with nightmares. Thoughts and prayers won’t help to pay for the hospital costs for the treatment of their injuries or in dealing with the PTSD that will surely follow. No, cognition and words uttered to a deity of choice will not impact the lives of anyone, anywhere. They will not stimulate change. Thoughts and prayers are a total crock of self-serving bullshit. Get to the table and create policy and change.
One of our coaches welcomed a new baby girl into this world on Wednesday in a most unusual way. She was in such a hurry to start this journey of hers that she decided it was best to make a grand entrance into the hands of her father on their living room floor. I am ecstatic for this family and excited for what will be an amazing life for her, but I am weary and scared for her at the same time. She has come into this world at a time that we have not seen before. A time when hate and fear is dominating our headlines. A time where it seems that we are not celebrating the joys in life, rather incessantly talking about the stream of negatives that come our way. A time where hate is more common than love. I hope to be a part of a shift in focus that will allow her to only read about these times in a history textbook and not to have to experience it.
So where do we go from here? How about we make a genuine effort to care for each other. It seems to me that the people that have committed these heinous crimes are all crying out for attention. They have been neglected, denigrated, abused and ignored for so long that this has become their only means of being seen, being heard. Our society is cultivating the next wave of these terrorists right now. These are the high school students that are being bullied on social media by cowards hiding behind a keyboard. These are the people that we deem are weird, or don’t fit in to our social clique. We have to be better than this. My challenge to every single person that reads this (yes, both of you), is to be a better person. Say hello to a stranger. Identify the person that is on the outside, and provide some kindness in their direction. Because the only way that we are going to change the direction we heading and to chase out hate is with love and kindness. Thoughts and prayers haven’t worked yet, maybe it’s time to try something different.
I’m not sure if this rant is within my lane as a strength coach, but I don’t give a shit. I’m human, I have thoughts and emotions, and that is my lane.
Shane Pizzey MKin, CSCS, CEP
Director of Sports Sciences