If You Can’t Say Something Nice

I might have mentioned baseball a few times: Well, for sure I have. As just a few examples, I used baseball as a jumping-off place when launching my 6-year fitness program, celebrating the power of celebration, celebrating Canada’s National Treasures, and when considering the need for humility in our judgements.

I have even admitted that as a spectator sport, baseball leaves this spectator with time to spare. For thinking about the surnames I see, and the surnames I don’t, as one example. For making faces at small children in my row (no photographic record, thankfully). And, of course, for finding faces on the back of baseball caps, sitting (happily for me) atop photographer-friendly fans.

Accidental face on baseball cap.My mind wanders. I admit it.

So I wasn’t surprised when I found myself reading the huge ads on the outfield fence instead of paying attention to how the fielders were shifting position for the next batter. I was surprised when I saw this ad:


My first thought was, “Isn’t that redundant? I mean, is there an organization dedicated to negative coaching?” And my next thought was to see if I could have some fun with that ridiculous concept. Maybe an imagined, over-the-top-negative coaching intervention. For a sporting coach? A business coach? A life-skills coach? The details were still up in the air.

While I played with this notion, I thought I’d better do some research. That weak moment led me to the Positive Coaching Alliance website.

Well, dagnab it, this was serious business. They’re celebrating their 20th anniversary; their National Advisory Board includes names that even I recognize; and their comprehensive approach has mission statements for all the participants, to wit:

The Positive Coach uses the power of positive reinforcement to pursue winning and the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports.

The Positive Athlete strives to improve him or herself, teammates, and the sport as a whole.

The Positive Parent reinforces key life lessons and leaves the coaching to the coach.

My half-formed intention to write a funny piece withered away.

And then Team Canada didn’t qualify for the playoffs of the LGT World Women’s Curling Championships: the first time that Canada has missed the playoffs since 1999. Gasp! Oh, the horror. Some fan reaction has been withering: If it’s not hate mail, it’s certainly abusive mail. Nor is this new (ask Colleen Jones); nor is it limited to the women’s game (ask Brent Laing).

Of course, that’s perfectly understandable. Clearly a losing curling team is an embarrassment to the country and a betrayal of all of us who invest so much in this sport. I mean, I spend a few hours every year watching the Scotties and the Brier. I have a right to expect better of every Team Canada and to beak off on social media if I don’t get it. Don’t I?

Well, no. Having done none of the work to get there, I can still tag along for whatever ride these athletes are on. Having invested nothing in their performance, having contributed nothing except a butt in a comfortable chair, I would be less than gracious in responding with anything other than support.

Maybe there is one gap on the Positive Coaching Alliance website. Maybe they’d like to tackle a mission statement for the Positive Fan.


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10 Responses to If You Can’t Say Something Nice

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Now, if you happen to take in a Toronto Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre this year, you’ll likely have a few things to distract you from the game. You likely know that the Jays are shaping up to have a very firm grip on 5th place on their division, so management has decided to find new ways to lure people to the game. One is lowering the price of beer to $5. Distractions might well abound.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Now, now, I’m sure the Jay have retained some of their good players. No? Well, in that case maybe it’s a good thing we can all drown our sorrows.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    And had you been in my seat at a game last summer, you would have had plenty of time to read the huge billboard ads or anything else. I had a great seat. 21st row up on the first level, just a bit toward first base from home plate. Perfect view. Until this guy who was about 6’8″ tall and a good 4 feet wide, came and sat smack dab in front of me. Talk about obstruction! And so it went for a couple of innings.

    Fortunately, there was a fairly tall woman sitting in front of the big guy and he got tired of leaning sideways to see past her so he moved over into an unoccupied seat a few seats away. Otherwise, I might just as well have gone out into the food court part and watched on a monitor.


    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Having visited several Triple A stadiums this Spring, I find that only one has seating that facilitates viewing. The key seems to be to set the rows at a sufficiently steep pitch, but this also seems to be an old-fashioned approach to stadium design. The new ones are distressingly flat, offering no hope when anyone of above-average width or height plunks down in front of you. I can only assume that steeper seating is more expensive to build.

  3. Judith Umbach says:

    My seating experience is at the ballet. For many years our group has sat in row H more or less in the same seats. The row in front is filled with on again off again attendees. Last week a man who did not appear so tall or so big took up my entire view of centre stage, the most important place. It was probably what macular degeneration looks like (I hope I never know for sure.). At the intermission, I moved up to row L, which has a much better view anyway because it is higher. And it had more leg room (dastardly seating designers). Because the moment was opportune, next year our season’s tickets are all in row L. So there!

  4. Lorna P Shapiro says:

    Nice… thanks.

  5. The only thing I hate worse than a big head in my line of sights, it’s noisy little kids who think they’re home and talk incessantly & loudly through the movie. Years ago, I rolled up a thin (!) magazine and bopped one of them over the head while issuing my fourth SHHHHHSH. The surprise got a good result (from both boys). Luckily I was not taken off in handcuffs by the P.C. police.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Yes, sometimes the laying-on of hands (or magazines) can have a salutary effect. Of course, we have to be ready for someone walloping us. 🙂

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