June 9, 2010 by David Gillaspie
Loyal readers know I apply a gentle lash to topics ranging from the decline of wrestling, the decline of funding for history, and the decline of care for those in need.
It takes a gentle lash to deal with these topics because the people in each are used to being whipped harshly, much like George Foreman expected from Muhammad Ali.
Instead, Ali gave him the legendary rope-a-dope tactics. It works in other fields, too.
For example, the Oregon Historical Society brings in a man known for his fundraising skills who now suggests that the state history museum may have to lock its doors in a phased shut-down.
They are on the ropes.
Caregiving for those in need get the last person they expect, someone with more problems than them.
They are on the ropes.
Which leaves wrestling, the sport and the attitude. It’s more attitude for those who’ve been off the mats for a while, and it’s becoming less sport for those who want to stay on the mats longer. No ropes here.
Can the wrestling attitude save Oregon history? Help caregivers? It might be the only thing left.
A museum executive is either a local guy immersed in the culture of place, or a transient scholar brought in to imbue his new turf with the wonder of museums. In either case they need to shake the money tree. The long-time contributors have fallen by the wayside and new donors are suspicious.
The local guy goes directly to the funding sources and asks the hard question: What do I have to do to get you on board.
The transient scholar takes advice from staff who’ve already given up and makes a general plea.
Which one would you give to? The local guy changes his act according to changing times; the transient scholar works the guilt trip.
Ali vs Foreman?
The wrestling attitude toward history is all about the set-up, the shot, and the score. Find common ground and build on it.
A caregiver shows up at your bedside to help you, except they are too weak, or disinclined, to do much more than read a story or hold your hand. They are too fat, too skinny, to old, or too feeble, to do the work, but they still show up. They will do what they are trained to do, but not what you need them to do.
Can’t stand up? Can’t get out of bed? The caregiver shows empathy, but that doesn’t move the needle. And there’s nothing you can do to get them on the right track. They are not able-bodied enough to function in your world. The line is drawn and they’re not crossing it.
The wrestling attitude toward caregiving is to first find the patient’s strength. Are the shoulders sound? The arms? Can they stand with help? Maybe walk a few steps? If they can, then the wrestling attitude says they will. Caregiving is no more than drill-work, doing the same thing over and over until it becomes an unconscious move.
Learn to stand? Okay. Learn to walk? Let’s go. Then do it again. A person deemed as bedridden deserves another look. Are they down because it takes too much time to get them up? That’s not right. Find the time, get them up, then tell them the effort they made is the same effort every great athlete makes to separate themselves from the others.
Just like Ali.
Can the wrestling attitude save wrestling? Go directly to the problem and say “what has to happen to get things moving the right direction?”
Check the status of wrestling, where it is strong and where it needs work. Build the weak links and reward the strong. Make a bridge between the two. Do the name brands of the sport resonate beyond wrestling? How far beyond.
What is the main deterrent to wrestling? Fear. Someone will grab me. Someone will push me. Someone will fall on me. And they’ll do it all in front of others and I’ll look stupid.
You’ve heard it before. Wrestling attitude says the sooner you learn to grab and push and fall in the context of the sport, the smarter you’ll look. Do it will some flair and you’ll look like a genius.
Just like Ali.
Now ask yourself what deserves your support, a guy like the history transient who shows up looking at his clock because he knows his time is limited; someone like the caregiver who shows up with their limited agenda of what they can and can’t do; or a sport like wrestling that is the foundation of all competitive athletics?
Maybe it’s a stretch, but wrestling attitude is the application of pressure. If you’ve felt pressure and caved, then you want to avoid it so you won’t cave again. If you’ve felt pressure and responded with your own, then you’ve got something to work with.
Ali expected Foreman to punch hard, if not long. Foreman brought the pressure first, got tired, then Ali knocked him out. It is an apt metaphor of the times.
Wrestling needs a response from history and care. The history of sport is wrestling. It’s earned its care, deserves its care.
Show some wrestling attitude. Ask yourself “are others aware of a sport as deserving as wrestling?”
Then look at history and caregiving.
Hint: look local.