So, as I mentioned, before, I’m reflecting a bit on what values/benefits I get out of the sport of wrestling. You can check out the previous post here. Anyway, here’s #6-10. Again, I would love to hear your own “list” on what you get out of “your sport,” or just get your general comments in general!
6. Passion. If there’s one thing you’ll find about wrestlers and wrestling fans, they’re pretty crazy about the sport. There are those of us who still physically wrestle well past what our bodies are capable of, and for many, everything ties back to the sport somehow. (To those that know me, you know I’m never guilty of this! ha!) But why? It’s because we’re passionate. Wrestling is in our blood….it’s what gives us life – the sport, the community, the experiences, and on and on. And that passion spills into other areas of our lives. Wrestling makes us better people, life-giving people, in other aspects of our lives. And I think if we look at the world in general, I wonder if such passion was present in everyone….what would that mean for life, life as God intended for us?
7. Honesty. There’s nothing more honest than standing face to face with another human being, with no advantages, no special equipment – just you and the other – and both wanting the same thing. One will triumph, one won’t. I think the honesty in our sport, in my successes and failures, has enabled me to be more honest about other areas of my life. It’s made me seek such honesty from others in my relationships. Honesty does something: it frees you from denial, and allows you to grow and flourish. 1 John 1 says, “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves.” This isn’t about moral sins, but rather, the acknowledgement of who we are – human beings, with limits and faults, but with great gifts and potential. If we deny that, we miss out on certain things. Wrestling is about dealing with limits and faults, gifts and potential, honestly.
8. Inclusiveness. The church I belong to (ELCA) is always talking about “inclusiveness.” We need to include others, acknowledging and celebrating their diversity and what it brings. We have to provide an environment for that diversity to flourish. Wrestling does that better than any other sport. Body type, size, strength, flexibility, race, age, socio-economic background, religion, political belief…..it doesn’t matter. If you put great effort into it, you can wrestle. If you ever look at some of the best wrestlers in the world, you’d never believe what you’d find. Fat chubby kids, 98-pound skin and bones, and everything else in between. Wrestling is the embodiment of inclusivity!
9. Toughness. Maybe I should say this another way: resiliency. That’s what being “tough” is about – being able to withstand difficulty, adversity. And that mean you may not be able to overcome it, but you can withstand and endure it – it won’t destroy you. Wrestling’s taught me that, being resilient in the face of failure, injury, personal tragedy, uncertainty, anxiety, and so forth. As a good friend of mine commented, “But, the reality is that MANY things in life will be harder than wrestling (parenting, disease, loss, etc).” My friend is right. Wrestling teaches us to push on in the face of adversity, regardless and uncertain the outcome may be. That’s resiliency. That’s toughness.
10. Grace. I think this might be the most important thing I’ve learned through wrestling. It’s made me a better person of faith, and a better person in general. I’ll be honest, my wrestling career is marked with a lot of failure, more than I’d like to admit. And there’s a lot of guilt and shame as I’ve thought through the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” of all those experiences. But it’s taught me to deal with myself with grace. That stuff doesn’t define me. Today, even as a coach, I’ve learned through being gracious with myself that I don’t need to be an All-American, National Champion, or even a full-time starter as a college competitor to be a good coach. Thankfully, I’ve had good friends and mentors in the sport tell me the same thing, because they understand grace is essential to enjoying the sport of wrestling. We will all fail, fall short. But, grace allows us to see those things don’t define us, and shouldn’t diminish our lives and the way we live them. And for me, that is central to my faith in God through Jesus Christ. Grace allows me to see the gift in things each and every day – like the gift of being able to be a part of such a great sport and community like wrestling!!