Some people relish in being arrogant and superior. Some folks are always right and can’t suffer fools who don’t accept their special gift as handed down by the gods. These guys are of course usually pretty successful. Their talents put them at the front of the line, and their bullying keeps them from being challenged. I get that too. These qualities are great for competitors.. not so much for teachers or coaches.
The thing I’ve noticed about these “adult” bullies is that they always seem to come up with questions that lack nouns. They seek out conflict, but don’t really want any blow back, so they leave out any words that would let you know what they are on about. What’s more, they like to do it in front of a crowd. They want to be seen riding the lower life forms, because they believe that it makes them look large. They also know that most people are too well-mannered to respond in kind. It’s like the time I had this dude come up to me, get in my face and say “What’s that?” ”I don’t get that.” with a boat load of aggression in his voice, then just look at me as if I were gum at the bottom of his shoe and walk off. After the shocked daze wore off, I realized he was offended by my Body, Boat, Blade t-shirt that said, “Body, Boat, Stick” on one side and “Throwing Stones At Sacred Cows” on the other. OK, so I wore a T-Shirt that apparently dared to challenge his concept of what paddling is all about. Provocative! I was asking for it! Honestly, I would have never thought of the shirt as an affront to all that was holy in paddling. I like it because to me, it simply challenges us to take a wider view. After all, as one coach said this weekend in Grand Marais, “Kayaking is not cancer surgery. Apparently to some, it is. A Greenland blade in some circles is to paddling is what a Darwin fish is to religion. To me, anyone provoked into conflict by a t-shirt, no matter how offensive, needs to take an anger management course. There are better ways.
The other bit that really peeves me off about these folks is that everyone seems to apologize for their behavior. They were having a bad day, they are popular, they are talented, “Well, they were right.”, or my favorite, “You must have done something to piss them off.” Really? Being right, is no excuse to be a prick. I have to pass on information all the time and I feel no need to be jerk in the process. And frankly, people piss me off occasionally and I don’t feel the need to attack or belittle them in front of people. If you can’t help but chase someone down to bully them because they buttered your bread in the wrong direction earlier in the day, you’ve got a problem.
Talented bullies should never, and I mean NEVER be teachers. They rely too much on adoration, dogmas and positions of power when they lead. They are not open to questions or new ideas. They simply twist new information to support their existing linear skill set. Their students will be stunted, or worse may fail where they don’t need too. On top of that, once inculcated in the “my way or the highway” approach, they will most likely inflict that same style on those who they may teach later in life. An arrogant coach is the first link in a chain of failure.
I remember once early on when I took my first ACA ICE. I had a conversation with one of my ITs about just this subject. We talked about how you could get some amazingly talented folks coming through the coaching track, that would be failed simply because they were arrogant. In the end they would do more harm than good. That idea always stuck with me. A great paddler isn’t necessarily a great coach.
Now here’s the thing.. I’m 48 years old. I’ve seen my share. I was one of those kids that was bullied to no end all through my school years, but I’ve grown a good shell since then. I can see right through bullies these days and I don’t have the time. If you want to discuss an idea, if you think I’m wrong, or if I offended you in some way, let’s talk. Sometimes disagreements are the foundations of amazing friendships. But if you just need to be the “big dawg” don’t waste it on me. While your busy taking your best shots, all I’ll be thinking is, “Pee high and proud brother! “