February 16, 2013

The Olympics have cut wrestling, and one young man grapples with disappointment.

Kyle Snyder, 17, "a 5-foot-11, 215-pound marble slab of an athlete — undefeated in his high school career, and the top-ranked prep wrestler in the country at his weight class."
“I just grew an overwhelmingly powerful love of wrestling, and it was all I could think about,” Snyder said. “I didn’t want to be out on the football field. I wanted to be getting better at wrestling. I think I have an addictive personality, and when I fall in love with something I keep thinking about it and thinking about it.”

“Wrestling is his calling,” said Snyder’s coach.... “He probably spends 80 to 90 percent of every waking hour thinking about wrestling.”
Sad that they took wrestling out of the Olympics... and it's also sad that a determined, competitive kid like this has absorbed a message from modern American culture that extraordinary concentration and dedication is a mental disorder.

I think I have an addictive personality....

How did a 17-year-old American learn to talk about himself like that? Is it a disarming faux-modesty that he's developed so that other kids don't lose their self-esteem (like they could do as well if they were weird enough to spend all their time on one thing)? Or does he genuinely think of himself as deranged and analogous to a junkie? Shouldn't a successful high school athlete be regarded as someone to be emulated by other kids (and not a bizarre outlier to be observed for entertainment's sake but disregarded as any kind of example of how to live)?

Here's some discussion of what psychiatric experts consider to be the characteristics of an addictive personality:
- Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification, an antisocial personality and a disposition toward sensation seeking.

- A high value on nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society.

- A sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance.

- A sense of heightened stress.
This isn't at all the same thing as exceptional dedication.

I'm not knocking Snyder. He's 17 and a great achiever. I'm knocking the culture that got a message through to his still-developing mind.

39 comments:

TMink said...

Yep, this looks like a great kid who has been tainted by the pathologizing of our culture.

Trey

rhhardin said...

I learned Morse code.

They ought to have Morse code Olympic competitions.

bagoh20 said...

Our culture - immerse yourself in its warmth
- feel its strong arms around you
- put your stone on the pile
Our culture - love it or leave it, and don't let the door hit you in ass.

Mitchell the Bat said...

The real pathology would be wanting to be disliked.

CatherineM said...

Today the thing is to be well rounded, do a little of everything and be an expert at nothing. I do not think that's a good idea. Not sure when they decided that was wrong in American or Western culture. They don't feel that way in Asian cultures.

edutcher said...

Sad indeed, this young man has been truly brainwashed if he thinks he's addicted.

And, bag, I've already left it.

DADvocate said...

Shouldn't a successful high school athlete be regarded as someone to be emulated by other kids

You can't hold him up as someone to emulate and admire, that would harm the self-esteem of all the slackers.

Palladian said...

- Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification, an antisocial personality and a disposition toward sensation seeking.

- A high value on nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society.

- A sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance.


These are the three golden principles of my life.

Tim said...

Simpler answer: our culture is fucked up, having lost sight and surrendering meaning in the old virtues, barely without a fight.

The highest premium is being cool.

Few things are less cool than wrestling - even when I wrestled in the '70's, it was totally uncool. Regardless, of all the sports I played, it was the toughest, by far.

But as we now sacrifice the old virtues at the alter of cool, we diminish ourselves.

We have no one to blame but ourselves.

William said...

I'm addicted to delayed gratifications. It has made a wasteland of my life.

ironrailsironweights said...

If it's necessary to eliminate some Olympic sports, a better idea would be to eliminate those for which the Olympics are not the highest level of competition: soccer, tennis, golf (not yet started) and, sorry to say, basketball.

Peter

betamax3000 said...

Pity. No more Olympians on the canvas in the garden; only old gymnastic coaches pushing young girls backward in eternal graceless circles, no wrestlers holding each other tortuously, fashionably, and keeping in the corners — only a great number of single girls synchronized swimming or relieving the orchestra for a moment of the burden of the banjo or the traps."

Ann Althouse said...

"If it's necessary to eliminate some Olympic sports, a better idea would be to eliminate those for which the Olympics are not the highest level of competition: soccer, tennis, golf (not yet started) and, sorry to say, basketball...."

Get rid of all the team sports. Only individuals. And let's stop referring to their connection to their country as putting them on a "team" when the sport is done alone.

William said...

In the 19th and early 20th centuries there was a fetish made of amatuerism. Amateurs in all fields were considered purer and more worthy of honor. Pros were declasse and grubby......The polarities have been reversed. Only professionals are true to their calling and worthy of respect. And if their calling is not something you can turn a buck doing, it's not a worthy calling.....They should keep wrestling. This sport was present at the first Olympics. Moreover, the athletes, like in the first Olympics, compete for glory and not for money. The Olympics should honor its past......Perhaps if they offered a nude jello wrestling contest in the women's events interest in the sport could be nurtured.

Astro said...

I respect the kid's work ethic, but perhaps this dose of reality will do him (and his parents) some good in the long run.

The Olympics are little more than a beauty pageant anymore, with a narrow form of physical prowess being the selection factor in each sport. Tens of thousands of dollars (or more) are spent by each contestant to attain an otherwise pointless award. The real prize is the endorsement / spokesperson contract that might come afterward.

I've seen parents told that if little Johnnie or Suzie signs up for specialized coaching and goes to all the competitions (paying the private coach to go as well), blah, blah, blah, that the kid could be an olympian. These parents, whose kids had barely more than average talent, were talking out second mortgages on their homes to pay for this insanity. It borders on fraud, and this is what drives the olympics industry.

ricpic said...

Everything must be turned into a mental condition. Who did this to the young man? If the truth be told very unhappy people did it to him. They cannot abide that someone somewhere is happy and doesn't need their "help," to navigate his way through this terrible terrible world (as they see it).

CEO-MMP said...

Do we know how serious he was? I tend to do the same sort of thing when I get interested in something, and I've said the same thing--in a joking/sarcastic manner.

wyo sis said...

Maybe it's time to stop calling it the Olympic Games. It could be called The Games for Money and Fame. If purity to the original is the definition it's already become something different.

CEO-MMP said...

I would keep fencing and eliminate basketball and other similar sports. The only thing that would be safe would be ice hockey.

ndspinelli said...

The IOC is also replacing the marathon w/ pole dancing, trying to capture the male 14-85 demographic. Walter Sobchak, an IOC member from LA, has suggested replacing swimming w/ bowling. That suggestion has been taken under advisement.

Christy said...

Wasn't wrestling one of the three Olympic events in ancient Greece? Dropping it makes me sad, but at the same time I confess I never watched the event.

After the county middle school Honors Band concert last night, Nephew noted that most of the kids were athletes with only one true geek. Later he was analyzing the behavior of a cousin. Kids today are trained to deal with bullies, abuse, and discrimination by understanding why people behave as they do. Is it any wonder they look always at their own behavior and analyze it and everyone around them?

Penny said...

This kid's going to open up a lemonade stand. No telling where that will take him next, but I predict a very positive outcome.

john said...

With wresting gone, can even mens pairs diving be saved?

Not good.

EMD said...

He's just using the word wrong because he's heard it and relates it to what he thinks he feels about wrestling.

He sounds methodical about wrestling, and not impulsive at all.

JAL said...

Most likely some of his friends have told him that because he wasn't spending all weekend playing WOW or such.

Clearly he doesn't fit the definition. What he does have is passion, focus, discipline.

Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification, ...

- A high value on nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society.


Haha. Instant gratification is the opposite of what happens in wrestling. Not an addictict.

One of my sons was a wrestler in HS. Nowhere near this guy. My brother-in-law wrestled at Lehigh one year. One of his kids wrestled at VT all 4 years. Very tough. So yeah we took this news with much disbelief.

Wrestling is a very tough sport and requires a mental and self discipline and control that is life shaping.

Bad call by the IOC.

This kid will be okay.

Lem said...

I'm knocking the culture that got a message through...

Speaking of connections...

Could this have anything to do with American Football?

You know... how we, here in the States, are making these connections of long term brain injury and suicides within the NFL.

Is it possible that the IOC (a likely anti-American body) is dropping wrestling in an attempt to influence that "conversation" we are having about the violence of our favorite sport?

Paddy O said...

"Is it possible that the IOC..."

I think the only possibility with the IOC is that the wrestling folks didn't bribe them as much as other sports did.

Paddy O said...


"Shame if we have to drop your sport," IOC said. "Wrestling has such a long history with the Olympics. To drop it because you couldn't come up with a few million dollars in cash and perks would be such a tragedy..."

Roger J. said...

William: perhaps women's beach volleyball served the purpose of attracting the younger male demographic.

Roger J. said...

William: perhaps women's beach volleyball served the purpose of attracting the younger male demographic.

bbkingfish said...

"I'm not knocking Snyder. He's 17 and a great achiever. I'm knocking the culture that got a message through to his still-developing mind."

Of course. It has to be the culture's fault. Snider's accomplishments are his; his misapprehensions are the fault of society. Typical right-wing psycho-babble.

And now, the poor baby might miss out on his subsidized trip to the Olympics, to which he clearly is entitled. Sniff, sniff.

Joe said...

The Olympics is a joke. It's a plaything of politicians and the rich paid for by the host countries taxpayers.

Saint Croix said...

I think there is a dark side to obsession. It's silly to deny it, or pretend there's no downside to it. On the other hand, obsession is at the root of greatness.

You look at great artists, they're obsessed with art. Great athletes are obsessed with their sport. If you look at the billionaires on the Forbes 400, you'll see a lot of obsession. How often does Jeff Bezos think about Amazon? Every frickin' day.

The Aviator is a great movie about obsession. I believe Martin Scorsese--who himself has an incredible passion for film--saw a lot of himself in Howard Hughes.

Here's a bit from my book about that movie...

When we talk about Hughes today, we talk about his obsessions, his compulsions. We talk about him being a madman. The crazy monster with the long-ass fingernails. But as Scorsese's film makes clear, it was his obsession and his passion that made Howard Hughes go out and do amazing things. We mock and belittle Howard Hughes because we want to justify our vanilla, risk-free, tranquilized and safe existence. You want to do something amazing and cool? Get out of balance. Stability is for mediocrities.

Palladian said...

And now, the poor baby might miss out on his subsidized trip to the Olympics, to which he clearly is entitled. Sniff, sniff.

Ooh, sounds like bbkingfish got hopelessly pinned during his first and last attempt at wrestling in junior high school...

"Sniff, sniff" is what you did to the balls hanging over your strained little face as you were squashed to the mat.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

Get rid of all the team sports. Only individuals. And let's stop referring to their connection to their country as putting them on a "team" when the sport is done alone.

I would not like to see relay races dropped from track & field. Not that I care much about track & field, but something that has been around that long develops a kind of permanence. Exactly the reason I think the move on wrestling is equally wrong.

Michael said...

Professor. In college individual sports are comprised of teams are they not? Swimming. Fencing. Single scull. Wrestling. The comraderie and spirit and the shared goal of winning for school or country are important motivators.

wyo sis said...

Men's wrestling has been on the decline since women's collegiate sports were mandated by law to be equal to men's. Just another casualty in the war of the sexes.

Kirk Parker said...

"Walter Sobchak, an IOC member from LA, has suggested replacing swimming w/ bowling."

Shut UP, Spinelli!!!

Sangram Singh said...

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Wrestler