Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The A Word: Arrogance

This sport is fantastic.  It empowers people, it makes you put it all on the line, and it drives you to do better than you have in the past.  Derby does have a seriously positive impact on a lot of people, but there is a dark side to derby.  Just like in Star Wars, the Force has a light and a dark side, and our dark side is arrogance. Maybe it's because a large number of us come into derby without ever feeling powerful or important, but somewhere in our experience, arrogance begins to weasel it's ugly little head into our thought processes.  Arrogance is like dust; it's everywhere, but whether or not you try to clean it up or wallow in it is up to you.  But Q, a little arrogance is good, right?  That depends, are you confusing confidence with arrogance?   Does it blind you to your faults?  Does it put distance between you and your teammates or the rest of the derby community?  Then it's not a "healthy amount of arrogance."  Arrogance comes in so many levels, I'm not even sure people are aware of how insidious its reach can be.

Your internal monologue:
Are you arrogant about your performance?  Your confidence can easily cross the line and turn into arrogance. It starts small, but sometimes it turns into a force that keeps you from listening to feedback, unbiassedly assessing another skater's skill, or just being a smirky little prick in your own mind.  Yeah, I said prick.  Once you start an arrogant monologue in your head, you're going to start acting on it; knock it off before you start making your team hate you.

Your actions:
Original image found here.
You may just think you're "telling it like it is" but other people are interpreting your level of arrogance by your actions and what you say.  Remember the Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong?  He came off sounding incredibly arrogant because he was expressing his internal monologue out loud.  Armstrong felt he was untouchable, and that came across loud and clear during the interview.  Do not be Lance Armstrong!  You may be an amazing player, but that doesn't mean you get to ignore suggestions from your teammates, skip practices whenever you feel like, drop out of endurance, take a pass on putting the track down at each practice, and not doing your volunteer hours.  You may have already been a magnificent skater, but it takes a league to make you a derby skater.  When you join a league, you have to do all of those things.  NOBODY OWES YOU SKATE TIME, even when you're amazing. When you think you're too good to be a team player, you need to reevaluate your level of arrogance.  

Your team's actions:  Sometimes teams can come across as arrogant; back before derby hit its growth spurt, teams were very isolated from each other, mostly because of the distances between them.  They turned inward and regarded anyone outside of the league as an enemy.  Things are slowly changing, but some leagues still think their way is the only way, and all other leagues have nothing they can teach them.  Not true!  It's always great to have a different perspective on the game.  If you just stick your head in the sand and only learn from your own league, you are limiting yourself.  I seriously suggest getting outside training when you get the opportunity, visiting other league practices, and watching footage.   You can learn from anyone, from the newest of newbies to the best jammer in the world.  Approach derby as a learning experience instead of a superiority experience.

How you can stop it.  Coaches!  There is something very easy to do to stop the rise of arrogance in your team.  You MUST intercede BEFORE there is an issue.  Yes, you might have a super star skater on your team, but you need to remind the entire team that while that skater was destroying the jammer, the rest of the girls on the track were doing their jobs too.  One great player does NOT a winning team make!

Let's not turn this sport into a "I'm more important and awesomer than you are contest."   Every time I see arrogance rear its ugly head, I see a team dealing with drama.  Nip that crap in the bud!