Thursday April 26th 2018 

Usually when I write my blog, I have clear objective in mind.  I want to talk about the state of wrestling in Quebec and maybe the country, the things that I’ve noticed throughout my many years in the sport or to talk about some results that wrestlers in our province have achieved recently.  While all this is good sometimes I feel that there aren’t enough key points to construct a full length article on one particular subject.  Sometimes I feel like venting about certain things that I find are lacking in our sport and while this blog isnt conceived as a forum to further my own personal grievances, sometimes it’s necessary to vent, and may cause some people to think that this is purely personal.  I assure you though that there is a purpose.  So without further ado, here are some things that I want to touch upon as I’m stuck in Toronto waiting for the next flight out in order to get home from the 2018 U17-U19 Nationals.

Lack of support

I pretty much know that pursuing a career in coaching amateur sports in Canada has no future or financial security.  With the exception of certain sports, amateur sports will never have the backing from the government in order to sustain a person financially in this changing world economy.  Wrestling is even harder due to the fact that we lack the numbers and the popularity to create jobs that are viable.  Some people will cite university coaching positions as well as starting up your own club as a way to use wrestling to make a living but let’s be honest, the numbers in most provinces will not make it sustainable.  Most coaches in the sport do the coaching as a volunteer.  Some get paid but it’s not enough to provide for you and your famliy.  Maybe some other places in Canada have the numbers to sustain this but In Quebec that’s not possible.  Even in the very Canadian sport that is hockey, many coaches volunteer their time to insure that kids have a place to play.  There are also too many sports programs out there in schools for everyone to be drawing a full time salary so I would have to assume that many coaches who coach smaller sports in schools have another way of making money.

Now this is not a cry for the government to put more money into amateur sport and youth development nor am I naive enough to believe that this will ever happen.  I already wrote an article on this topic.  The point I’m trying to raise is that support can be given in other ways.  I say this because having recently being accepted to the Advanced Diploma of Coaching I’m having a hard time making it work.  The expectancy is that I would take some time off from work in order to make it work to take the courses.  The problem is that bills don’t pay for itself.  While it’s to be expected that no one will pay for my courses, I tried to enquire about some form of bursaries.  There were none.  Also, taking time off work is also an issue as due to the nature of what I do, taking a reduced course load wasn’t even an option.  All this would also indicate a lack of support as there are no options even in place to allow this.  Basically, lack of support extends to many areas and it’s hard to pinpoint one area.  The one thing is clear that we as province or even a country can’t expect to progress at the national international level without some type of support.

That Special Athlete

With that being said, lack of support will pretty much insure that very few athletes will succeed at any level in our province.  So this makes the lack of support stand even more.  Without support, we can pretty much be sure that with the exception of that one or two athletes, most will fall through the cracks and get lost.  We have to remember that it’s not always the top athletes that always succeed, but the hardest workers.  With the lack of support, we can pretty much be assured that some of the slower developing, athletes will get lost in the crowd.  As a coach, this makes me sad since the most obvious athletes aren’t always the most succesful and with the lack of support, it becomes very difficult to adress all their inidividual needs.  This insures that most athletes probably will not succeed in the end and this approach places results over process, a truly utilitarian concept.

Some athletes require special attention

The problem with amateur sports

Some of the problems that come with amateur sports is that they don’t receive enough attention in the country and that’s why they don’t receive the support they need.  The old saying goes is that success breeds success and that in order to receive support, you have to be successful.  But that’s like a chicken and the egg argument.  How can coaches and athletes build the fundementals to be successful?  Maybe more visibility in the public eye might be the solution?  After all, people want to be seen as being helpful and if the people become more aware of the struggle that athletes and coaches face, they might be more inclined to help.  The problem with this marketability. In a recent newscast on CBC News, Howard Bloom of cited the lack of marketability of Canadian athletes as opposed to proffesional athletes as one of the obstacles that amateur athletes face when looking for support.  This lack of interest is clearly an example of where our values lie and this is sad.  After all, isn’t the work that an amateur athlete puts in in order to make it to the pinnacle of their athletic career just as praiseworthy as someone who make the proffesional ranks in sports?


Things that can be done

Unlike some blogs where I offer my thoughts on what I think can be done, for some of these random thoughts that I came up with in my time being stranded at Pearson, I realize that some issues require the input of many people.  So I ask the question, what can be done to offer support?  How can we encourage more athletes and coaches to stay in sport longer?  How do we finance this?  How do we get the most out of our athletes that may not be destined for high performance but can still contribute?  How do we market ourselves to maybe insure that we do get more support?  I would like to hear your theories on what can be done to improve the state of amateur sport in our province if we are ever to meet at a tournament.

In conclusion, having made it back to Montreal over a day late, I was sort of peeved to find out that though school was cancelled due to the weather, I was still docked a day for calling a subsitute teacher to come and replace me.  Though I understand the fact that the sub was called in and had to make arrangements to do so, the fact that they didn’t show up and got paid, all the while docking me sick day could be seen as a lack of support.  While I don’t deny that the sub should get paid, I don’t think I should docked a sick day.  This can also be seen as just another way that discourages coaches and athletes from continuing in sport if they get penalized for things beyond their control.

To all the struggling athletes and coaches, hang in there.  Hopefully brighter days are ahead.