Monday, 6 July 2015

Short-term gain for long-term pain.

How far are YOU willing to go?
I don’t know if they had them in your classrooms at high school. Those posters.

How much are YOU willing to sacrifice?

It was usually an A3-sized print with a capitalised, bold-font caption, beneath an image of a 100-metre sprinter pushing his head in front of his competitors at the finish line. Or a squirrel dragging a nut twice its size. Or a shadowed figure alone on his college basketball court, hands on knees, sweat dripping from him.

What would YOU give up?

It was the latter of those that got to me. It was usually partnered with the line, “A champion is an athlete who succeeds when no one else is looking.”

If YOU fail, try again…
If YOU fail, try AGAIN…

If I could fucking rip those posters off the wall now, I would.

On Friday, a man’s narrow, possessive, dichotomous pursuit for excellence and success, left him dead at the hands of his son’s torture of being the sacrificial lamb.

Drug-induced, mind-altered motives borne out of hatred. It’s the wonderment of where did it all go so wrong that, for mine, is the bigger tragedy than the fact that Phil Walsh is no longer with us on Earth.

22 years on this planet has taught me the notion of love is often the devotion to your other, sometimes to the detriment of one’s own better health.

I envision that when that love extends to a responsibility like parenthood, the gap between better judgement and biased piety can be cataclysmic. A drive to ensure that your offspring are born, raised and grow up in circumstances better than you, the provider, experienced yourself.

But in the most heinous of circumstances, ambition meets individualism with fatal consequences.

To pigeon-hole such ambitions to the sporting sector would be flippant – my own parents, medical professionals, had let their work dictate their life for the opening eight years of my own. But, it is easy to witness the link.

Sporting coaches are dichotomous creatures; teachers to the players, yet students to the sport.

It consumes them – the desire to be better, and then be the best. At what cost?

The blinkers are up; whether it’s researching the analogies and parallels that Japenese linguistics might align with the sport. A sport (and a job) that’s already taken up 70 hours of your week before you’ve factored in time to sleep and exercise and eat.

Society has foiled into an instantaneous web of results-based focus. No one will stand up and clap for how many hours have gone in, as long as the outcome is positive.

No one, except the people who love you, and whom you are, in turn, supposed to love.

Does the nature for you, the consumed individual, to busy yourself with priorities and to-do lists, numb you to the collateral damage your absence as a father, mother, role model might incur?

To be civil: think of the children!

You only needed to watch the Channel Seven half time feature on interim Carlton coach John Barker last Saturday night. His eldest daughter, not much older than the same age I was when my parents decided to ascertain the life balance between provider and parent.

He’s good, but he’s away for most of the day, which is a bit annoying.

Charli Barker is the innocent version of Cy Walsh. Only actions differentiate them. Quite substantially, too, obviously.

The Walsh family case is extreme, but will it be the platform for which a lesson can be learnt?

There are elite sporting level coaches in the current environment today with callous, fractured and possibly unrepairable relationships with their children.

It is the fractured ones that have seen children bear the brunt of their parent’s singular initiative, but they dare not speak up. They dare not hurt feelings.

They dare not finger point; citing marriage and family breakdowns and laying great effect. Is this in turn the part where the ‘affected generation’ look to their kin, determined to provide them a better childhood than the one they were offered.

So what lessons will be learned from Phil Walsh being stabbed to death by his own son?

Friday was sad, tragic, but will live on very vividly for every Australian who woke up, fumbled for their phone or tablet and read the fateful, chilling headline.

I can only imagine the playback of horror for Meredith Walsh as she witnessed the ordeal unfold, or to Quinn – who is my age – who had heard the news second-hand. And of course, what next for Cy.

In this competitive world, supported by the theoretical parameters of ‘survival of the fittest’ in a physical, social and professional landscape, the desire to succeed and willingness to win will remain prevalent.

But ‘win’ what, in the great race of life…

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