I often hear stories of certain aspects of the cycling community not liking others.
Mountain bikers not liking roadies or BMX park rides not liking racers just for a couple of examples. In reality, most riders don’t care and agree with me in saying, “if you’re pedalling and smiling, great, keep it up. Road, mountain, BMX, unicycle, trike, who cares.”
When I lived in North Vancouver I’d ride out to Horseshoe Bay and there would be hundreds of roadies. I’d wave or nod at every rider along the way and if I got even one response, I would be shocked. It became a challenge for me to be as nice as possible to all these overly focused, overly serious riders.
Lately, I’ve been coaching some young’uns in Lacrosse, and much like parenting, this has made me more aware of a few things and reminded me of the basics again.
Skills are skills and will improve as time goes on, but teaching little kids has reminded me of many other things that are sport related, but also just daily reminders of how to conduct ourselves.
This last weekend was filled with examples.
Regan and I went to the skate park on Saturday and he was blasting around the bowl with a gaggle of other little kids. When some older, far more advanced skaters, showed up, I was going to give Regan one or two more laps before telling him it was time for the rippers to have a turn, but before I could, this full grown dude shot into the bowl at full speed, buzzed Regan as closely as possible without actually hitting him, and yelled, “Get out of the bowl!”
You can imagine the reaction of a six-year-old. He got out in a hurry and tried to stop shaking. As much as it went against my grain, we left.
I got Regan settled in the car and calmed down, then went back to chat. Now that the bowl was cleared out, this guy was no longer skating, but sitting on the bench smoking pot. (I’m not judging and I don’t care what people’s vices are, but can’t you smoke pot without scaring the s#!t out of a kid first? I’m more of a beer guy, so I’m not sure of the etiquette here.)
As I chatted with him about not being an a-hole to kids, he just stared me down like he wanted to fight, while his buddy politely explained that because of the sun, they couldn’t see kids in the bowl and that I should learn the rules. (Yeah, I didn’t know what that meant either, so I left.)
I tried to forget the experience and assumed these guys never got the “do unto others” lesson as kids.
Sunday rolled around and during Regan’s lacrosse game, we had an opponent that was seriously short on players. At the half way mark it was clearly a lopsided game and as much as my players were enjoying goal after goal, we implemented a two pass rule before any shots. It was tough on my players, but I want them to learn to be compassionate, and eventually, hopefully, learn to pass and catch.
It worked out great, we still got to enjoy the win, the kids had a blast, and we learned some sportsmanship along the way.
Then we stayed and watched the Junior, game. These are 18 and 19-year-olds who take the game pretty seriously.
Lacrosse is a rough game and it can get really, really intense. As the score spread, the game got rougher and tempers were flaring.
At one point a couple of the away team’s players were ejected for some reason, probably their choice of words for the ref. So these two clowns sat in the stands and watched as their team was slowly losing the lead. Then, a home player blew his knee out badly and was carried off the floor to sit in the stands waiting for the ambulance.
As he sat there in obvious agony, the previously ejected players headed over and sat with their injured opponent, gave him water, encouragement, and a little hug.
It was an awesome lesson for Regan. Play as hard as possible during the game and do what it takes to achieve your goal, but remember, we’re just a bunch of people, who should do there best to be nice to each other.
Whether we’re mountain biking and come across a hiker, playing rough and competitive sports, or just hangin’ out with a bunch of strangers, it seems pretty easy to be nice doesn’t it?
I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’ … with a smile and a wave.