Slaying the Dream

Posted by on Apr 9, 2018

My daughter, the Warrior Princess, played her first game of volleyball when she was ten years old. Several of her friends also played, and so the long Saturday mornings in cold gymnasiums across the city playing friendly games of pick up volleyball were like parties for her. Every weekend she’d get to see her friends and have fun doing a little light exercising. They were never bothered by their parents-most of us knew next to nothing about volleyball and found more pleasure catching up on recent gossip and complaining about our children than in watching the games.

But as the kids grew older, my daughter, already the tallest in her class since kindergarten, shot up two feet in about a year. And it was about then when the first club volleyball coach approached her at one of the community games. I never knew there were volleyball coaches at those community games. I couldn’t imagine why anybody who wasn’t forced to be at those games would be there–far too often plays stopped because one girl was picking at her fingernails and not paying attention or because a ball, the only ball anybody had remembered to bring, was kicked under the stands or up into the netting for basketball hoops and nobody could figure out how to get it out.

But the coaches were there and and they saw the thick powerful legs of this Warrior Princess and the towering height and they salivated. They talked to us about how she’d never be able to keep up with other girls if she didn’t get into club volleyball right now, and even worse, they threw out their very first hint of a promise–with hard work and dedication, she could be good enough…their voices trailed off, leaving us to imagine the ending of their sentences.

We hardly dared to dream it. Both my partner and I were high school athletes and we’d both carried on playing our respective sports as adults. But neither of us were good enough to play in college. Not even at smaller colleges.

And we had always ridden the line between working class and poverty.  I couldn’t remember the last time we weren’t worried about when the car would break down or if we could make rent that month. Sending our kids to college was a dream. A distant dream that we didn’t dare even speak out loud.

***

The Larry Nassar sentencing consumes me.

Each new athlete that walked up to the microphone in the teeny grey courtroom twisted my stomach and tore at my throat. How could this have happened? How could any man have gotten away with hurting so many women and girls for so long? By the end of the sentencing, over 150 women and girls testified, and there were even more than didn’t get to testify because of time constraints. The sentencing couldn’t go on forever, after all.

But that’s the way things go with sexual abuse. There’s always more people.

The stories that the young women shared all felt familiar, like an old pair of pants–stiff and scratchy until they settle into your body and you forget you’re wearing them. One young person spoke of breaking her neck in four spots and a coach bullying her into continuing to practice. Another young person told of continuing to practice on a painful leg because of bullying by coaches, only to find out later her leg was broken. Several people shared stories of bulging discs and torn ligaments and pain so excruciating they could barely walk. One girl wound up in a wheelchair. Another with a hip injury that left her unable to lift her leg from the floor. She competed anyway. That same girl testified about deliberately hurting herself so she could escape the Karolyi camp (a nationally renowned Olympic level gymnastics training center run by Bela and Marta Karolyi). Marta Karolyi responded to the girl’s injuries by telling her that a different girl had fallen off a bunk bed and didn’t miss a day of practice.

Coach after coach sent these hurting bodies to Larry Nassar. The miracle doctor that could fix anything. Multiple survivors testified that he was the ‘good guy’ to the bullying bad guy coaches. Nasser snuck the girls forbidden candy and promised to get coaches to back off. He scheduled appointments after hours and very quickly–a blessing for hurting athletes that often had to wait months to get into even poorly rated therapists. He charged nothing when girls couldn’t afford it. He commented on their Facebook posts and liked their instagram pictures. He was nice. Parents trusted him, even ones trained not to trust. Multiple parents of survivors are police officers, and they trusted him. And so their girls did too.

Individual stories. Hurt bodies. A familiar ending.

***

Volleyball is not a high impact sport like football or basketball. Occasionally, one girl will crash into chairs or even another girl while trying to get a wayward ball, but that’s rare. Other times, girls get concussions from being hit by a spiked ball. As girls get older and more competent, the good ones can spike balls up to 100 miles an hour, and if you’re not paying attention, very often even if you are, you’re going to get hurt. But even concussions are rare in volleyball. As girls get better at spiking, girls also get better at bumping and ‘receiving’ the ball.

What makes girls better able to spike and receive balls is repetition. They repeat their drills so often, spiking the ball, bumping the ball, setting the ball, the skill weaves in the muscles, becoming a part of their DNA–the musculature learning to move before the brain can think.

For every game the Warrior Princess played, she spent hours and hours on the court, doing thousands of repetitions of various drills. Arm swings. Blocking. Passing. As a middle blocker, she spent most of the game at the net, either spiking balls for a point or blocking balls that other players spiked at her. One of the drills she did would start her at one end of the net, and then she’d jump up as high as she could, legs and arms fully extended, as if blocking a ball, all the way to the other side of the net. She’d do this back and forth across the net 5-10 times. And this was just a warm up drill.

Drills they did during practice would be more intense, sometimes spiking a ball (and almost all the girls spike with one arm), hundreds of times in one practice alone. And then there was the blocking drills. For that a coach stands on a big block and hit balls over the net, like an opponent might during a game. The Warrior Princess would block until she couldn’t breath, her face red and dripping sweat, her stomach heaving from the tension and stress of repetition. I’ve seen more than one girl throw up–the jokes about puke buckets were dark and borderline angry. The same girls getting lectured about not throwing up to be skinny were being encouraged and told working out so hard they threw up was ‘good for them.’

The Warrior Princess was usually hurt by mid season. There was almost never a single moment that caused her injury–no, for her the pattern was that one day after good and bad days, her body would decide to torque up just a little too tight for her to rotate or stretch out of and she’d be in physical therapy for a month. Repetition injuries. Sometimes she’d be able to recover quickly enough to make it back to the team before the end of the season, sometimes the pain was season ending.

But the pain never went away.

***

I picked my first bucket of blueberries at age ten. I don’t remember what made my parents pack all the kids in the car and drive us over to a local field. But it made sense to me then. We were a poor Mexican family, and working in the fields is what most of my Mexican friends did.

I learned quickly how physically demanding picking berries can be. After a few hours of work, I could hardly move my arms because of the intense pain radiating from the center of my neck out to my shoulders and down to my elbows. The bucket that I dropped my berries into yanked on my hips, twisting my back muscles into painful knots.  I drank enough soda or Koolaid to keep ‘sunstroke’ away–but often felt ready to vomit. I understand now that was due to dehydration. Back then, I made myself get used to the feeling, assuming that I was being ‘childish’ or ‘not tough enough.’ But I never got used to not eating for 12 or 13 hours a day. I would try to sneak a few berries when I thought nobody was looking, but after being reprimanded for ‘eating your paycheck’ I stopped doing even that.

Repetition injuries. The first time I went to a physical therapist, it was for a pinch in my neck that finally became too much to ignore or grit my teeth through until the advil kicked in. When they asked me what I thought caused it, I couldn’t answer them. This pain had torn at the back of my neck for so long it seemed normal, like it was a part of me. I was laying in bed that night, drifting in and out of sleep, my mind working underneath the waves of sleep, when the answer finally seeped into my consciousness. The hot days, the rope with a towel around it, the bucket of blueberries hanging off it, the sharp stab in my neck. The searing heat across my neck and shoulders as I reached out for blueberries. And the firm ‘suck it up’ from whatever adult I told. The deep breath, the focus, the singing under the breath. So that eventually I learned how to ignore it.

Even now, I always know when I’m stressed out–my neck muscles seize up and the muscles and their memories squeeze a few involuntary  wheezes of pain out of me.

I know hard physical work. And I know pain.

And I knew I would do whatever it took to protect my daughter from what I knew.

***

As athletes move up in the volleyball ranks, they get closer and closer to The Dream.

Back in the olden days, when I played pickup baseball games with neighbor kids, we had The Dream too, but it wasn’t like it is now. Back in those days, we’d pretend that we were a player from our favorite team. We’d listen to games while wearing our gloves and cheer whenever the announcer mentioned our player. Maybe if we were lucky, our parents would put us in local rec leagues to learn how to be just like Alan Trammel or Jack Morris. But that only happened if it didn’t interfere with vacation, and only if you agreed to ride your bike or take the bus to practice. More often, if we were good enough, during our gym class, our gym teacher might mention to us that tryouts were starting soon. And then sometime in late high school, we might get the actual visit–the college recruiter. But until then, it was all a fuzzy blurry Dream, one that only the best players ever were able to tune into a sharp focus. For the rest of us, being able to say ‘played in high school’ was an honor.

The Dream these days is a recruitment tool, and they start shaping it for you before you’ve even handed over the first check. Club/travel teams post their recruited athletes on websites and gym walls. They tout their ongoing one-on-one relationships with colleges teams and recruiters. They hold clinics for the general public explaining what it would take to get your kid recruited. They talk about how their sport is the most likely to get athletes full ride scholarships. Eventually they even offer ‘rate your daughter’ experiences where your daughter can go do drills and play a game in front of college coaches, who then ‘rate’ where your daughter would stand in comparison to other girls and what she can do to improve her chances at getting recruited.

Clubs never promise scholarships or that your daughter will be recruited. But they do swear that this is the only path they can travel if they do want to get recruited some day. And they’re right. Back in the olden days, the best athletes played throughout the year, but they did it by shifting between sports. Bo Jackson was a three sport athlete in high school. Lou Gehrig played football and baseball (and was actually recruited for football). Jackie Robinson was a four sport athlete in college. They were superior athletes, but didn’t become masters of their particular sport until they were adults–in Bo Jackson’s case until he was already playing in the MLB. And it wasn’t uncommon for the Old Dream folks to take some time to develop. Star athletes like Tom Brady, who is considered the greatest quarterback of all time, often talks about how he took two years as a professional to learn plays and get his feet under him.

These days, kids play one sport year round, thanks to club and travel teams and that Dream they sell. Kids specialize and become masters of their particular sports at high school and even middle school level.  And clubs are careful to point out that unless you’re playing year round, you’ll be so far behind by the time college recruiters come knocking, even good athletes will be passed by mediocre kids that have had the time to perfect their skills.

But even with all the passive threats and aggressive carrot dangling, clubs don’t promise you anything except that the Dream is one you can buy access to. The rest is up to your athlete.

***

Club/travel sports are an investment. Like a good money fund or a house. And so just as adults go to work to pay for the house, girls go to work to get the big payoff, The Dream.

And they start protecting their investment. Girls play thru all but the most immobilizing pain. Many times, they even play through that. One time at a club game, I asked a small group of parents if any of them had some aspirin for my throbbing headache, and after digging, no less than ten bottles of painkillers were offered to me, some over the counter, others prescription, all meant for the aches and pains their daughters dealt with from playing. After I expressed shock, purses were overturned and backpacks were emptied and a big pile of herbal salves, ice packs, knee wraps and braces, and KT tape mixed together on the floor. Nobody on the team played pain free. Most of them were using multiple methods to manage their pain. I wondered how these painkillers interacted with normal teen activity like sneaking alcohol from parents or smoking pot.

Girls played through back pain, knee pain, ankle twists and muscle tears. Parents pushed their girls when they knew their daughter’s tears were from exhaustion rather than manageable pain. We all sat judgement on parents that couldn’t tell the difference. We also sat judgement on parents that seemed to only care about being ‘the best.’ We didn’t care if our daughters were the best, we cared if they worked hard and were persistent. We believed that a ‘good balance’ of being tough and working hard would lead to The Dream. That felt right to us, like a good compromise.

When my Warrior Princess refused to play through pain, she and I fought. She wasn’t sweating under the 100 degree sun for 12 hours a day, she was doing something she loved. Something that could get her college scholarship! What kind of pampered child was I raising? If she warmed up properly, the pain should go away. Right?
She and I fought hard. I wondered how bad the pain could really be. She wondered how I could call her a liar. I am not calling you a liar, I’d retort, I’m just wondering how bad that pain really is, I saw you running just now and you didn’t even wince. She’d respond with one of those teenage eye rolls and maybe a door slam. We’d fight like this on and on for days. The more I’d push, the more she’d dig in. When I changed tactics and tried to sweet talk (I know you can do it, my sweet Warrior Princess!) or guilt trip (you’re letting your team down!), she’d respond with a sarcastic, ‘Like I can’t figure out what you’re doing, mother.”

I could never bring myself to force her to play anyway, like I’d seen other parents do, or even tell her to toughen up. But boy did we fight. Driving to games, my partner, her father, would burrow into a seat, headphones firmly stuffed into his ears, so he didn’t have to listen or take part of our battles. Her brother stopped coming to games unless I forced him to.

If my kid was a different kid, one who wanted to be a good girl maybe, she would’ve caved under the intensity of my blazing pressure. If I didn’t have the teeny veneer of conscience hold me back, I would’ve blazed until she broke.

But I call her Warrior Princess for a reason, it is a title she has truly earned. And she never lost a battle against her dragon mother, even if there were plenty of draws.

***

One of the stories that came out during the Nassar hearings was of the young woman who tried to tell her father that Nassar was hurting her. Her father not only didn’t believe her, but demanded she apologize to Nassar for accusing him of something so awful. She refused to.

And then the blazing whirlwind of fire began. Every time father and daughter got into fights, father would pressure the daughter. You need to apologize to Larry. You need to admit you’re lying. I’ll make your life a living hell if you don’t. Kyle Stephens stopped talking about it to her parents. But she replayed the molestation she survived in her head, over and over again on repeat. So that she could remind herself that she was telling the truth. She wasn’t a liar.

Eventually there was the show down–the daughter tried one more time to tell the father, the father became so enraged he put his hands on his daughter’s throat. And then something clicked, and he knew the truth. He knew. The daughter told the court about how his guilt eventually led to his suicide.

Father and daughter. Blazing pain. The Dream deferred.

***

The question never goes away. How could this happen? Pulled out every single time yet another ‘shocking’ case of sexual violence happens. How could this happen? It’s like the comfort blankie from our childhood, we cling to it, smelling it’s warm familiarity, sucking on it’s frayed corners. The answer to ‘how could this happen’ offers it’s own Dream. If we can figure out the right answer, the pain, the violence–it might not happen to our Warrior Princesses. Our babies.

As more testimony came out during the Nassar sentencing, the question became like a drumbeat for the heads of parents. How could they have let this happen? What kind of parent doesn’t know?

Abuse is rampant in all sports, but it was never called abuse, not when I was growing up. We called it, ‘being tough.’ Suck it up, stop being a pussy, toughen up. You see examples of this olden days abusive behavior in the classic movie, Bad News Bears. A drunken coach regularly yells at and belittles his players, who are all just barely on the cusp of puberty. A different win-at-all-costs coach slaps his son after the son makes a mistake. The movie sits judgement on both of these coaches, but doesn’t really reflect on what is going on around the coaches and players to make coaches so abusive. And the movie never called what the adults did, abuse. The kids eventually seem to even sorta be glad that their coach was a little ‘hard on them.’ It showed he cared.

These days, even the slim condemnation Bad News Bears sat parents that were ‘too hard’ on their kids seems quaint. Today, parents, coaches, even sports radio, bemoan a world where kids get ‘participation’ medals or ‘everybody is a winner’ certificates. They can’t stand how kids today are treated with kid gloves, never exposed to the hard facts of life that sometimes there are winners and sometimes there are losers. They all agree: kids need to toughen up and stop being pussies.

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes was released back in 1995. It spoke of the many ways that coaches were ‘toughening up’ their athletes, but this book called ‘toughening up’ abuse. And it questioned where the line was between ‘toughening up’ and ‘abuse.’ It wondered how good it could be for girls to be ‘toughened up.’ It wondered if the price for winning was just too high and too extreme, especially for children that hadn’t even reached puberty yet.

But athletes, even many gymnasts, who the book focused on, weren’t interested in answering the questions the book raised back then. I saw an interview with several gymnasts defending the brutal training practices–they knew what they signed up for. It’s what they wanted. They wanted to train hard and be the best. That’s how they got to do it.

But even if they defended their sport, they didn’t deny that they were treated like shit. It was just a question of whether or not The Dream was worth it. Most argued yes.

Next to nobody asked if it was appropriate for little girls to be achieving their dreams–most seemed to have forgotten that achieving dreams is for adults.

***

The US Gymnastics team dominated the 2016 Olympics. The US won the team competition by an unprecedented 10 points over their nearest team. Simone Biles destroyed the competition in all that she did except the balance beam. The entire team exuded power, effervescence, brilliance. Their interviews about their training regimen inspired admiring coos from broadcasters, the internet ran listicles telling us how to ‘work out’ just like Simone Biles or Aly Raismen.

And at the time, the list seemed admirable. 32 hours or more of workouts a week. Hours and hours of ab drills. No parents allowed in the gym or at the camp. No phone access at camps. No candy allowed. No water until the skill is perfect. All distractions gone, eliminated, so girls could train to be the best, so they could focus. Everybody admired the work ethic–that is how you win! adults said as they introduced their daughters to the sport.

I asked during the 2016 Olympics if any -body- should be as well trained as Simone Biles or Aly Raismen. Especially when so many of those bodies were so young. I worried about what that sort of training would do to girls who would never and could never be Simone Biles. I worried about what it would mean for gymnastics. It’s a sport where 20-year-old Gabby Douglas was considered down right grandmotherly. Many questioned if Douglas had any right being on the team in 2016 when she was so clearly ‘distracted’ by adult problems like university and (Possibly? Could it be?) dating. Is there anybody left, I wondered, who remembered what grown women’s bodies doing gymnastics looked like?

The very few people that responded to my questions, responded negatively. Why would you shit on the excellence of these girls? asked on commenter. I think they’re gorgeous, said a more gracious commenter. They know what they signed up for, said another.

They know what they signed up for.

***

I worked in the fields as a ten year old because workers regulations prevented McDonalds or General Motors from hiring me. And even when I finally was old enough to work at McDonalds, I was only allowed to work until a certain time of the day and a certain number of hours a week, especially when school was still in session. Farm workers are exempted from these worker protections so that kids working on their family farms don’t get penalized. It just so happens that the lack of worker protections mean that a significant number of kids as young as five and six are out in the fields picking before most people are out of bed in the morning.

My family knew what they were doing when they dragged us all out to the fields to work. Us kids even wound up feeling a sense of pride and self-respect when we were able to contribute to the family through our paychecks.

I knew what I was doing. I knew what I signed up for.

I was a woman before I questioned if it was ok for 10-year-olds to work 12 hour days for any reason.

***

The Warrior Princess never backed down in her refusal to play when she was hurt. And I just kept getting angrier and angrier with her. It was ok to push her. It was ok to bully her. It was ok to ‘expect more’ of her. Because I was giving my daughter a gift. A gift that I never got. The economic support to dream big. The support and love of her family. We knew she could do it.  We all believed in her. I believed in her.

I loved my daughter. My most precious thing.

Why couldn’t she see that?

Our battles increased in intensity and swamped our time away from the volleyball court. Now we weren’t just fighting on the way to the court, we fought over dinner and in between homework and on instant message during school. She spent more and more time in her bedroom with the door closed and the time we used to spend cooking together or talking about books we read together was non-existent.

One day after dropping her off at a practice, I pulled into a local park and broke down completely. Sobs ripped open my mouth, tears flooded my nose and mouth, making me choke. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. We couldn’t stop fighting. And I missed my girl. My daughter.

Luckily, my partner was with me then, holding me through the ugly sobs, helping me to breath through the choking tears. As I calmed down, he finally said–you can’t fill her up when it’s you that needs the filling.

I let his words come into me. They were gentle, spoken from love. He trusted me to hear him, and I trusted him enough to listen.

What was the hole I was trying to fill?

***

When I heard Kyle Stephens testify about her father, I didn’t feel angry or disgusted or even sick to my stomach as I had over so many other stories. I felt compassion for her father, and fear.

What hole was her father trying to fill? What was so empty in him, so hurt, he was willing to take down his daughter, hurt his best thing, to stop anybody from seeing? What was the Dream he was trying to buy?

What was the Dream I thought I was buying?

***

I apologized to my daughter. Not because I was a good person that finally figured it all out. But because there was just enough of the rational logical part of me that hadn’t been consumed by the emotional Dream beast that I was able to find first one then another then another brick down the road to doing something different.

I explained to my daughter that I wanted more for her than to be a former migrant worker with a bad neck. And so I had pushed her too hard and cared too much about the wrong things. She nodded and said she understood, but that this was her life. I nodded back at here and vowed to myself to respect her declaration.

I backed off, but our fights didn’t immediately stop. Instead of yelling or screaming, I many times contented myself with gritted teeth and adult version of eye rolls. If I couldn’t verbally say to her what I wanted to say, maybe my grinding teeth would. This, of course, set her off. I thought you were going to back off and leave me alone, she’d scream. And I would have to fight to choke back my own angry words so that I could at least angrily scream back at her at some point from a moral high ground.

But even as things weren’t always perfect, I didn’t stop trying. And neither did she. And so we started to find our way back to each other.

At dinner one night, we did appreciations. This is where we go around the table and share with the family what we appreciate about other family members. We’ve done it since the kids were teeny, and often the appreciations are silly or repeats of what they said for the last appreciations. But that night, I told the family I appreciated what the Warrior Princess of mine taught me about boundaries. That her refusal to back down against the massive dragon of her mother was inspiring. And taught me a life lesson I didn’t get from my parents or any adult growing up.

This kid of mine looked at me and smiled and said thank you. Not a grateful thank you–a  confident strong thank you. She knew she did good. And she would’ve known it whether I told her or not.

I see that same confidence blazing out of Kyle Stephens when she confronts Larry Nassar in court. And I am so glad to read that she and her father found their way back to each other before he died.

***

The Warrior Princess played one more season of volleyball and then got a catastrophic knee injury. She had to go through surgery and then months and months of physical therapy. If she played her cards the right way, she could’ve gone back for her senior year of volleyball. But where our lives used to be swamped by practices and games, there was now only endless physical therapy appointments. So we had a lot of time to talk. And she told me that as much as she didn’t want to be hurt, she was thankful her volleyball career was over. She actually hated volleyball. But she didn’t know it until doctors told her she might not play again in high school. And felt the relief flooding through her.

Her words reminded me of the Russian gymnast back in the 80s that was bullied into performing skills she wasn’t ready for and wound up paralyzed. She gave an interview saying that when she was laying on the floor, hurt, unable to move, the only thing she could feel was relief. Now she wouldn’t have to go to the Olympics.

Thankful for pain. Thank god. Now it’s over.

Individual stories. Hurt bodies. A familiar ending.

***

I can’t stop thinking about what the Nassar sex abuse case means for sports. I know what I hope it means. I hope it means that we give up on little girls working like grown adults in unsupervised spaces where they’re taught obedience and submission. I hope it means that we let kids be kids. And club sports are banned forever. I hope we go back to kids exploring sports they like in gym class and recruiting only happening during senior year of high school. I hope we willingly embrace grown women doing less fantastic but more sophisticated skills. I hope to see what grown women’s bodies look like doing gymnastics and figure skating and baseball and hockey. I want money in sports to be regulated so that training schedules are looked at as the labor they are rather than the ‘dedication’ they are forced to be.

And it has to be ok to ask: when is too young to ‘achieve your dream’? It has to be ok, because this is what club sports are selling. A dream possibly realized, by the kid, and maybe even by the parent too. Because what parent doesn’t have lost dreams? What parent doesn’t have a hole that needs some filling? And how many of us would do anything under the sun short of murder (and sometimes even that) to make sure our kids don’t feel the twisting empty hole we’ve had to learn to ignore?

It’s a natural part of the parent/child relationship for the child break away from the parent. It’s a normal part of a child’s growth for them to push back and say that’s not my dream. And there is nothing, nothing, in the world of (club, collegiate, professional or Olympic) sports that encourages young people to push back and declare their own space and their own boundaries. Regulating sports as labor would be one way to push back. If a kid can’t push back against coaches and parents and corporate sponsorship and college recruiters, maybe labor regulations can.

But in the end, what is point of sports if kids are hurting themselves to escape them? If kids are grateful to be hurt so they can be free?

***

As the Warrior Princess recovered from her knee injury, she joined the cross country team. She’s not any good, most of the kids on her team aren’t either. There’s no college recruiters showing up to meets, and most practices involve them running unobserved by their coach out at local parks or down long stretches of quiet road. She tells me about how sometimes her team will meet up at a nearby play structure and play on the swings together before they go back to the school. It reminds me of this Mexican kid I used to know with a sore neck and lost dreams that used to skip class to go hang out with her friends in back of the school and smoke cigarettes and ride skateboards. A rare treat before she had to go to work.

I don’t know if the world of cross country is reflected in my kid’s team. I don’t know if there are any club cross country teams or workshops or classes kids can take to get better or if all cross country teams are as laid back as the Warrior Princess’s team is. But maybe that’s the point. Because this is what it’s supposed to be like for kids. They’re supposed to have the time and space to fuck around while they figure things out. They’re supposed to have the space to push back and say no. So that when they’re on their own at college or at their first jobs or in their first relationships–they know how to do it.

Sports are an industrial complex now, and the foundation of this industrial complex is built on the silence and obedience of athlete/workers. On their lack of power. And this industrial complex manipulates the parents/child relationship so that parents are the enforcers of worker silence and obedience.

So we start there. We must be brave enough to start there.

Are we brave enough to help destroy the complex our kids are trying to escape? Are we adults brave enough to slay our own dragons, and not make our kids do it for us?

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2 thoughts

  1. This is amazing, thanks for weaving it together and being vulnerable. 💞

    Reply

  2. Gabrielle

    April 21, 2018

    Oh wow, I cried reading this. You are such an amazing writer- there’s so much honesty and empathy in this piece, as well as really clear eyed wide ranging labour analysis? Thank you so much for writing it.

    Reply

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