Wrestling With Pressure

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August 21, 2010 by David Gillaspie

You ought to know time is not on your side by now.  No matter how often you’ve heard Mick Jagger sing ‘time IS on my side,’ it’s not. 

Even Mick knows it from the looks of him.

What you do with your time helps explain who you are.  The pressure is greatest if you don’t know the answer yourself.  Sometimes it feels like the walls are squeezing in too tight.

Who really knows the answer to ‘who am I’?

You might say you’re the greatest athlete of all-time and showed it by going to the Olympics and winning both the decathalon and pentathalon gold medals, but who would believe you?

Unless you’re name is Jim Thorpe, no one.

You could say you’re the greatest athlete ever because you won the decathalon gold in two different Olympics.  You’d be lying unless your name is Bob Mathias, or Daley Thompson from England. 

Neither one is Jim Thorpe.

You could say you’re a wrestler, and it wouldn’t be wrong even if you’ve never set foot on a mat. 

Have you wrestled with your conscious?  You hear that one a lot,  just not from Bernie Madoff or the Wall Street bonus guys. 

Have you wrestled with a dilemma?  That one’s popular.  It’s related to the conscious wrestling match. 

One voice says, “I can do this,” while another voice says, “I can’t do this.”

Both are right. 

That’s the normal voice of wrestling with a dilemma.  You choose one. 

Athletic Directors and academic committee members use that voice when they decide to cut college wrestling programs.  With them it feels more like plucking leaves off a daisy in the ‘loves me,’ loves me not’ vein.

Is there much discussion in colleges that cut programs?  If there is, it might sound like this:

(The following is a fictional account.  Any resemblance to anyone dead or alive is puely coincidental.)

“Uh, Zig, I really want a competitive cheer team,” Martina said.  “I can get one if you’ll find a baseball coach and dump wrestling.”


“If we bring in baseball, we’ll need the best coach on the market,” Martina said.

“Joe Torre isn’t walking through that door, Martina,” Zig said.  “And it’s manager in baseball.”

“I mean college coach, silly man.  You get baseball, I get competitive cheer, and we throw wrestling out the door.”

“If you get the girl’s team, and I get the guy team I want, why not add another women’s team instead of cutting any sport?” Zig asked.  “I don’t want that stain on the department as long as I’m the Athletic Director.”

“That’s not what you’re here for, mister.  Did you get the memo?  Wrestling is done at Oregon.  We don’t want it.  We don’t need it.  We don’t have to have it,” Martina said, glaring a hole through Zig like the Yankee’s Andy Petit’s goat-trance while waiting for the signal from Jorge Pasada on a tight count.

“Just sayin’ I like wrestling.  I grew up in Eastern Oregon.  Ever hear of Burns, Oregon?”

“You’ve got to be joking.  You’re from Burns?” Martina laughed.

“I’m not, but they’ve got a wrestling dynasty in Burns.  It would be nice if some of their guys came to Oregon to wrestle.  You know a Crater guy from southern Oregon won the last national championship Oregon’s had in quite a while,” Zig said.

“That’ll change fast enough,”  Martina said.  “Competitive cheer only has one other D1 team.  We get first or second our first year.  Fifty-fifty deal with a national championship.”

“Cheer is a real sport?”

“It’s more of a stunt team.  And yes it’s real.  You think some judge will decide that it’s not a real sport?  Get real.”

“They might if they think Competitive Cheer is just a cheap way around Title 9.”

Associate assistant senior athletic director on even days Martina Gardner threw a razor edged eye-dagger at the former sani-can tycoon, the same look he’d seen in faces after canceling their portable outhouse contracts.

“I’m ram-rodding this one all the way through, Zig.  I’m a woman supporting more opportunity for women.  Isn’t that what Title 9 is all about?”

“I think it smells.  Why wrestling?”

“Have you seen them?  We’re doing them a favor.  I’m doing them a favor.  Sure they think it looks cool now, but let me tell you mister, no one wants to go through life disfigured.  And that’s what these boys are.  That’s what their so-called sport does to them,” she said.

“It’s the nature of the sport.  Anything not attached firmly gets bent.”

“Let me tell you a little something about bent.  I used to date wrestlers in high school before I had my stomach stapled.  We’d go out to dinner during the season and they’d hardly eat.  That is so rude.  I had to eat their food for them.  They never had time to have fun.  They were either running, or studying, or at practice.  You couldn’t go to a party.”

“Wrestlers are the problem, huh?”



“You’ve talked to the coach?”

“That’s tomorrow.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem.  If it is, offer him a job in the athletic department,” Martina said.

“I can do that?” Zig asked.

“You really are new aren’t you.  He’s already an employee, just tell him you’ll give him a lateral assignment after you take his team from him.  Is this how you did it in the big-time, Zig?  High pressure?”

“What sort of lateral assignment is there?”

“Competitive Cheer needs a fundraiser with enthusiasm.  I think the coach will be enthusiastic enough, don’t you?”

“You’d do that to him?”

“Do what?”

“Nothing.  Do you like your job?”

“Someone has to make the hard call, Zig.  You can sit there and do nothing, but time slips away.  What you do now defines how you’ll be remembered.”

Zig smiled.  “I’ll be remembered as the toilet on wheels tycoon who bought a job and got the brown end of the stick because you dated wrestlers when you were fat.  You’re cutting the team because they made fun of you in high school?”

“I wasn’t fat, I had a thyroid condition.  And yes, they were mean.  Well who’s the meanie now?  You are Zig, and as long as you stick to the script this will all work out fine.”

“It’s wrong.”

“It’s not right or wrong.  We wrestled with a delimma and came up with a decision.  That’s a win.  They’ll understand that.  They’re smart guys.”


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