The other day I came upon a picture of two wolves and it reminded me of a story I learned as a boy scout years ago. I really like the story, and seeing the picture brought the power of the message back instantly.
The Native American legend starts with a grandfather talking about life. He tells his grandson that in each of us lives two wolves engaged in a bitter struggle.
One wolf is evil. He is full of fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, temptation, superiority and ego.
The other wolf is good, full of hope, peace, love, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
As you might expect, the grandson asks which wolf will win the struggle, and the grandfather says, “The one you feed.”
Each year youth sports organizers tell me it is getting harder to recruit good coaches, umpires and referees because, while volunteering for these positions used to be fun and rewarding, these days negativity often keeps people away. Who wants to spend their free time getting yelled at or watching spectators become obnoxious jerks, annoying everyone and making youth athletes feel bad?
While some youth athletes have bad attitudes, most adults choose not volunteer because they do not want to deal with the bad behavior of parents. As parents, we become emotionally invested in the sports our children play. When things don’t go our way, our passion sometimes gets the better of us. We think we’re supporting those we love, but our outbursts often become hurtful and counterproductive.
Even if we don’t yell at a game, we sometimes communicate with our children about their sports in unproductive ways. A survey conducted by two former coaches asked hundreds of college athletes, "What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?" Their overwhelming response had nothing to do with winning or losing, it was, "The ride home from games with my parents."
These coaches, Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching, LLC, say the vast majority of parents who make sports difficult for their children do so inadvertently. They aren't stereotypical sports parents who scream at referees, second-guess coaches or berate players. Instead, they are well-intentioned folks who can't help but initiate conversations questioning the contest before the sweat has dried on their child's uniform.
Brown and Miller say that in the moments before, during and after a game, win or lose, kids want their games to be just games. Young athletes prefer parents who can transition from passionate spectator or well-meaning coach back to supportive mom and dad as soon as possible.
Brown and Miller explain that the survey results clearly indicate how to amplify the young athlete’s joy during and after a ballgame. Simply let them know you love to watch them play!
If you’re wondering exactly what to say to your little leaguer, soccer kid, or softball player before and after a game, Dr. Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders, says it’s simple. Before the competition, say 1) Have fun, 2) Play hard and 3) I love you. And after a competition, say 1) Did you have fun? 2) I’m proud of you, and most importantly 3) I love you.
People say there’s a fine line between our best and our worst performances, and the difference is often our mental attitude. Like the wolves, the one who wins is the one we feed – so please – feed the traits we most want for our children, the ones we are most proud of in ourselves.
Next time you have the chance, remember to cheer—not only for the win, but also for the effort. Cheer for those who are doing their best; because cheering helps us feed the good wolf within each of us.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey - Chief of Police