Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Work Ethic

The Olympic Curlers (not hair rollers, but athletes who play shuffleboard on ice, kinda/sorta) have no professional organization because there are no professional curlers.  They all have full-time jobs, and some of them are mothers who have full-time jobs outside the home, too.

Bode Miller, shedding his bad boy image, was the first skier on the lift line as it opened each morning.  Quite a change from Torino, where he was partying into the wee hours.  It seems he's found a better use for his mornings than sleeping off the night before.

As a little boy, Alex Bilodeau loved ice skating more than anything else in the world, and he was very very good at it.  But his older brother's cerebral palsy complicated things - the venues were not accessible and that meant his family couldn't be there with him.  Ski slopes were more accessible .... and for Alex there was no choice.  He switched sports, falling in love with moguls and growing up to win Canada's first gold medal in any Winter Games.

Bob Costas and Cris Collinsworth were talking about Lindsey Jacobellis's ill-fated trick at the end of what should have been her gold medal finish in Torino in 2006.


The conversation centered on the attitude of the athletes in "the newer sports."  It seems that there is a decided lack of seriousness associated with snowboarding (and moguls, too, for that matter).  The venues feature raucous music played at ear-bending levels and the competitors are likely to free-lance a last-minute trick and in doing so rob themselves of a medal.  Is this "true sports behavior"???  Must there be a solemnity to the proceedings, or is there room for fun and spontaneity and joy? Evgeni Plushenko says that he has an Olympic Gold Medal already so, this year, he skates "for fun." Is that okay?  His short program earned him 90.85 (whatever that means.... no one seems to understand the scoring this year) which seems to be a pretty good score.  What does that say about fun?

This all came to a head for me over the last few days as I watched an office I know implode.  A firing, a mutually agreed upon resignation, and a general sense of bewilderment on the part of the partners, a generation removed from those employees.  She was warned.  She just kept doing it.  This isn't a fun place to work?  It's work for crying out loud.  Guaranteed fun is not included in the package.  What were they thinking?  They had benefits and bonuses and could wear shorts to the office as long as the work got done.  It didn't get done, they lost their jobs, and somehow the firm is at fault???  

I think this is part of why I love the Olympic experience as much as I do.  If the notion of excellence in the workplace (even if that workplace is covered in snow) has become a relic of the Boomer Generation, these athletes seem to have grasped the importance of work. 

I expected to out-do my parents, but I expected it to be difficult.  I didn't expect my employers to care about my feelings - IBM'ers used to call themselves I've Been Moved - or my wardrobe preferences (casual Friday??? It was a big deal when TBG's office was allowed to remove their suit coats while at their desks).   In 1973, when I entered the workforce as a 20-something newly wed who was supporting a student/husband and myself, I was grateful for a job, any job at all.  The employment picture was just about as gloomy then as it is now, and I accepted the only job that was offered to me.  And I was glad to have it, though it was neither what or where I wanted to be.  It was worthwhile work, and that was enough.  

Did Bode Miller have too much praise as a child and so never learned that there's no such thing as a free lunch until he crashed and burned in 2006?  Is the  sign up and get a trophy culture of youth sports today resulting in giddy competitors without a healthy sense of respect for winning?  Is that a bad thing?

Inquiring bloggers want to know.

1 comment:

  1. For some reason, I found myself thinking of Tiger Woods as I read this post. As an iconic example of the athlete raised from the cradle to win, he valued winning adequately, but he was possibly so warped by his rearing that winning was almost all he valued adequately. I hope the lighter-hearted young snowboarders get a real shot at life beyond The Games.


Talk back to me! Word Verification is gone!