Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Everyone does NOT have a RIGHT to compete

In the St. Pete Times sports section the other day, local sports tool Tom Jones (yeah, I know. . . nice pen name, dude) . . . (wait, why are you looking at my profile? get back here. . .) was giving his two cents worth on various topics.

He brought up a recent ESPN Outside the Lines feature on Casey Martin. Martin, as you may recall, was the affable young man who wanted to play on the PGA tour, but because of a circulatory problem in his legs, needed a cart to traverse the 18 hole courses.

Martin sued the PGA to let him get in and golfing legends Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus testified on the PGA's behalf, that Martin shouldn't be given an exemption to compete.

Jones calls Arnie and Jack "putz's" and says they are forever "bad guys" in his book for wanting everyone to adhere to the rules of the game.

Here's my thing -- this is an epic fail for Jones!

Golf has rules like every other sport, play by the rules or the game means nothing. I don't care how nice a guy Casey is, if he can't fulfill the requirements of his sport of choice, he doesn't get to play it professionally.

I wasn't born seven feet tall. Should I sue the NBA to change to rules to allow me to play? I played a lot of baseball as a kid. When I finally realized I needed glasses and got them, I could finally see those fastballs whizzing by my head. Took the steam out of my stride. Should I sue the MLB to get pitchers to throw underhanded to me so I can play for my favorite team?

Stupid examples, you say? Okay, how about this . . .

I have a "friend" who has been a competitive shooter off and on since he was a young teen. When he got older, he put a little more effort into it and found he had a talent for the sport. Shooting only on Sundays, three or four a month, my friend became much better than others who practiced for hours on end each week. My friend became state champion four times. He got to try out, twice, for the US Olympic team.

Working sixty plus hours a week, married with a young child, my friend competed against and beat professional shooters who were sponsored by the military and the US Shooting team. He dreamed of one day, making the US team as an older, unsponsored shooter and competing on the world's largest stage -- the Olympics.

But my friend's job is very demanding. And he began getting injured. He began having surgeries. He now has permanent nerve damage in both arms from repetitive stress. He has tendonitis in both elbows and bursitis in both shoulders. He has a titanium plate in his spine from ruptured discs. His orthopeadic doctor asked him if he played professional football, because the only time he saw calcification of the shoulder tendons like my friend has, was from lineman getting their pads rammed down repeatedly upon their shoulders.

My friend can no longer compete competitively. He uses felt tip pens because ball points are too difficult to use. He keeps channel lock pliers in the kitchen to open jars. His dream of the Olympics is just a painful memory now.

According to Mr. Jones' logic, my friend should sue the USOC and IOC to have them change their rules to allow him to use artificial devices to help him shoot. My friend is a nice guy. He really wanted this, it was a huge goal he hoped to achieve. I would be willing to put money on the fact that my friend, as a shooter, was better than Casey Martin is as a golfer.

So sue, right?


It's hard cheese to swallow, but there it is. Everyone cannot compete just because they want to or feel it is owed to them.

This country was founded on the principle that everyone has the right to try. My friend and Casey both got to try at their respective sports, but neither was able to make the grade. Fate is a cruel, heartless b*tch who takes you to the door of your dreams before pulling the lever and dropping you into a pit of despair and anguish. It sucks, but that's how it is.

But the current rage of "everyone's a winner" "everyone gets a trophy" feel good, don't hurt anyone's feelings style of parenting and raising children is creating a country of whiny babies who don't know how to handle rejection.

Is it any wonder we see more and more instances of children lashing out at parents or teachers who deny them what they want? What they think they deserve? A boy wants to go past first base with his girl. She tells him no. He explodes and does something horrid. Why? He wanted it and she said no, how dare she deny him, no one else in his life ever has.

We have generations of young people who think everything should be handed to them -- I don't want to compete for a job, they say, just give me money and someplace to live. Make my decisions for me, because I don't know how to make tough choices, they say. What if I make the wrong one? What if I fail? I don't know how, no one's ever let me.

Is it any wonder we're in the mess we're in today in the world?

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