One of the things I remember most growing up as a kid was a simple slogan around my house, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
The folks made sure of it. I’m not saying it was all peace, love and understanding. But there was no, “I’m just busting his chops.” No, “I was just kidding.” No having at somebody else’s expense, then calling them too sensitive when they take offense.
All that seems to be lost in this day and age where a snotty tweet or chop-busting response on Facebook is followed with, “I’m just saying,” like that somehow justifies spreading hatred. Opening up that box of negativity is like Pandora’s Box, there just ain’t no getting the lid back on. People grab a hold of the negative vibe and run with it.
I actually had somebody walk up to me on the sidelines of a football game and say, “Congratulations on winning that award (Washington Newspaper Publishers Association sports writer of the year). Keep it up and maybe someday you’ll be like me. I’ve won so many of those, I don’t even bother to enter any more.”
Where does that even come from? Are you just so insecure that if you say nice job to someone else, then what does that say about my work? I’d love to tell ya that wasn’t in my head for the rest of the day, but I can’t.
I’m thinking we can do better in the Columbia Basin sports world. Not just because it’s the holiday season, but because it’s the right thing to do. I’m not saying we walk around singing “Kumbaya, My Lord.” But we can promote great achievements, recognize progress, and leave that box of negativity buried in the back with the other trash.
The world needs a few more atta boys and nice jobs. I was talking to my friend Lew Billingslea one time and got to going on and on about things in my life when I realized I hadn’t asked him how he was doing.
“Well, I have cancer. But other than that I’m doing OK,” he said.
I think about that every now and then. Here’s a guy that’s going through one of the most frightening situations in life and he wants to know how I’m doing?
I want to be like that.
Pete Doumit was like that. We lost our long-time baseball coach here in the Columbia Basin to that hideous disease, but Pete was a gentleman to the end. He was gracious, friendly and always wanted to know how others were doing and if there was anything he could do to help.
I wrote a story when Pete retired after 45 years of coaching and the response was quite frankly, amazing. People from all over the country responded with a memory or thought of what Pete Doumit meant to them or their family. I don’t know for certain, but it looked to me like Pete responded back to each and every one of them with a memory of his own.
Yeah, I want to be like that.
Facebook has opened the door to a brave new world for me. I’ve had to unfriend my share of people spreading the negativity through anti-political or anti-whatever posts. But one showed up the other day that touched me.
My cousin Danielle’s boy Jacob Conger shared a post that read:
“Your child’s success or lack of success in sports does not indicate what kind of parent you are. But having an athlete that is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient and tries their best IS a direct reflection of your parenting.”
Happy holidays to you and yours. Let’s see if we can’t carry a positive approach moving forward.