For as long as I can remember, our passionate, individualized, aggressive, technical, beautiful sport called motocross has turned out some damn heroic and iconic athletes. Racing or just riding is pretty sick in the first place. Most can’t figure that shit out at all. Hence the term “whiskey throttle,” but some do. These some are, in my eyes, easily argued as some of the greatest athletes of all time. I would compare the records and accolades to any sport out there. Now, each one is different in how they became a hero/icon in the sport. Different eras, different bike sizes, different countries, different genders. This sport has produced some of the most bad-ass humans on the planet for many years, and they don’t get recognized enough for it, in my opinion.
Now, on the other side of the fence (and even worse, it’s celebrated): is the absolute uselessness of some athletes these days. It’s not all their fault. The social media world has made some of these worthless sports icons heroes because people don’t really know them; they just see what they post. The majority of that being them in their most heroic form.
We become an athlete at the start because we love the game. It makes us feel good. It builds our confidence in ways we don’t get at school or home. It truly is beautiful to see a kid working hard at what they love. It can lead to so much within the sport and later in life for their career (if the sport doesn’t become the dream they had as a kid).
I was at my kid’s ball hockey game on Tuesday. The ages of all the kids were 5-6. My kids seem to enjoy it, which brings me joy seeing them happy with other kids doing something fun. At one point in the game, Ryley looked tired and became useless out there. It’s a team sport, so you should be giving effort for yourself and your team. I saw he was struggling, but instead of being that parent, “it’s ok, bud. Just try. You’re doing great, blah blah shit.” He ventured close to me, and I gave him the same speech I got as a kid: “If you’re not trying or helping your team, you’re useless to the team. And that’s ok, but go to the bench and allow another kid to come on and try for the team.” When I got this speech back in the day, it felt like I was being a pussy and it was a “step-the F up” type deal. I didn’t swear or sound angry in my speech. But I also wanted my son to know it’s not cool to just flip flop out there. If you are tired, get off. If you’re going to try, then get after it. Don’t be useless.
A few minutes go by, and one kid just quits and sits by the boards. Mommy and daddy came down to their kid, hugged, and said he was great and the best, blah, blah blah. Look, I get it when they are young, parenting is not easy, and it hurts being honest with the kids, but why is it ok to promote being useless? Why are we embracing that as a society? I’m sure not everyone is, but it’s becoming normalized. Another kid does the same thing a minute or two later. I almost yelled, “Get your useless kid off and give a kid that wants to try a shift!” but I didn’t. The coach never said anything either and it just kind of went away. That could be a defining moment in that kid’s life. Whether it’s 3, 5, 10, 18, 27, or 50 years old. I’m no doctor nor a perfect parent, but I cannot condone being useless in sport. It grinds my gears to no end, and I will always clip my kids before it becomes something they think is ok.
It’s probably a demographic of people that read this that have been around for a while, but a lot of these new racers across Canada wouldn’t know my racing history. I was one of these useless type racers at times. Talent to no end but no work ethic towards the sport. I was a “cool racer”, not a career racer. It’s all come full circle, and I work harder now to be better every day in my career than I did as a kid with everything handed to me. It’s wild how that happens, but my defining moment came at the mid 30’s mark. It happens at different times for everyone, but for a parent, we can help see it before your child can. If they suck, tell them they suck and help them be better if that’s what they want to do. Don’t embrace the suck cause it could never end and transfer forward for the rest of their life. It’s ok to make your kid cry to learn a tough lesson. That’s part of growing up and being better.
I started by saying this sport breeds heroes, icons, and legends. Every one of them had a defining moment where a tough reality, a reality that likely made them cry or hurt so bad they almost gave up, happened. To become an athlete that is revered for the history they made is a path and story that is inspiring. The best part of it all is, anyone can become great at any sport if you minimize those moments of uselessness. We all get them; we all see them. How they are handled can identify you or your child or your player or, in our world, your racer or you as the racer. Motocross doesn’t allow someone to be useless. Still, we can get swallowed up in the social rabbit hole that grows our egos larger than they should. Because it’s all on us when we are on the bike, you can correct that moment of worthlessness and become worthy of yourself. That leads to everyone following. And that, my friends, leads to becoming a hero, icon, and legend!!