Monday, April 01, 2024

Pushing Back Against Cynicism

One of the things that happens, if you have researched bad sports environments, or lived through enough bad managers, or even done too deep a dive into certain advice columns is that you forget how hard the mundane terrible stuff can be. 
Sure, the stories about coworkers who show up at your house to proselytize are clearly very bad. But coworkers who just smirk and say, "I know you have a lot going on at home," can be soul draining. Even though when you try to describe it people will say, oh, she's just trying to be empathetic. 
I thought this as I read the WaPo article about Kim Mulkey, who was so upset that someone wanted to write about her she held a press conference about it. And the article says she's exacting, and unforgiving, and that she was probably meaner to some players, providing punishment unequally. And yet, the article does not seem that bad. Well, you know, unless you had to play for someone who was a my way or the highway perfectionist. Unless you, at a critical point in your physical and emotional growth, were playing for someone who would make fun of your hair, or your love life, in front of all your teammates. 
See, when I say it doesn't seem that bad, I mean, when you include coaches who have strangled their players, sexually abused them, drugged them, and starved them. Coaches who encouraged a gravely injured athlete to keep going, even though it was clear that further movement would likely cause lasting injury. So, when I say not that bad, to be clear, I do not mean this is good. 
It becomes easy to be like well, coaches are often like that. When the correct thing to say, is why do we let coaches be like that? Why are we constantly letting supposed geniuses harm others because sometimes they do great things - be it science, tech, or sports. And it isn't progress that we sometimes let white women be terrible. It's bad. 
I have the sense that this story is probably going to peel off another layer or two in the coming weeks. But even if it does not. People can win sports without making fun of you. People can win sports without being jerks. And if they can't, then they were never really good at sports anyway.