Character and Courage
One’s character can be boiled down to the sum of one’s actions and/or one’s habits. John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyways.”.
Character and courage are two terms that come to my mind when I see wrestlers quit. Looking back to the 2021 Olympic Team Trials, and more recently the 2021 World Team Trials, we saw wrestlers enter the tournament, lose on the front side of the bracket, and then choose to not show up and wrestle on the backside. It shows their true character: one that is lacking courage. It is heart wrenching to train, to put the time and sacrifice in, and then fall short of your goal… I’ve felt it. BUT… how you deal with that adversity is what shapes you as a person. Adversity is the great revealer. Are you going to have the courage to get back out there and do your darn best after a loss or are you going to make some excuse and quit? That decision will show one’s true character.
True Warriors never quit because they have morals and principles that can not be corrupted. It takes character and courage to keep our morals and principles from being compromised when we are faced with adversity. It takes character and courage to fall short, to get up back up, and to keep fighting.
Kids are terrible at taking advice, but they are great at following examples. What kind of standard and example are we setting for those kids who are looking up to us and want to one day fill our shoes and attempt to be the best wrestlers in the world? If you as an athlete quit and chose not to wrestle back how are you supposed to effectively coach, mentor, or parent? How are you supposed to tell a young person who looks up to you to do the right things? If we set bad examples in our lives we are setting those kids up for failure… lowering the bar of expectation because it shows them it’s ok to quit if they don’t get their way.
Preach only what you practice. This world has far too many preachers. People that sit around and talk about this ideal while they have never even attempted to strive for such a thing. We need doers. We need people who lead from the front and lead by example.
There’s a lot of talk about “growing the sport”. There are a lot of good ideas out there, but I’ll add one more: wrestle back, show upstanding character and courage. We have to solidify the foundation for those who come after us. The best thing we can do as wrestlers is to set good examples of character and courage by overcoming adversity and continuing the fight even after our hearts feel like they have been ripped out. Our society needs wrestlers and wrestling more now than ever. Instead of lowering the expectations we need to keep them high so our kids learn to fight and take accountability even when they don’t feel like it!
Photo Tony Rotundo