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Pusses and Wusses - Has America gone soft?
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The Publisher
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Jan 9, 2011, 3:21 PM

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PUSSES AND WUSSES
In Scuttlebutt 3250, the commentary by blogger Tillerman titled MOMMIES GONE WILD revisited a subject about our sport’s pussification where heightened levels of pampering are now required. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell sees this issue as a national problem.

When the National Football League recently postponed the Eagles-Vikings game because of winter weather, Rendell declared, “We’ve become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”

While it is true that students in China outperform American kids by a wide margin in reading, math and science, is this because there are too many coach boats on the water? Thankfully, long-time giver to the sport Terry Bischoff pulls out of this conundrum with his learned commentary:

“For years when I was Executive Director of the Inland Lake Yachting Association, I espoused how the Junior Championships could be improved by having the competitors dropped off, and the parents disappear until completion of the regatta. I continued thinking the same when I was the PRO for those X Champs.

“You would be amazed if I related what tactics some parents went to "coach" their kids on the course: whistles, hand signals while listening for OCS calls over the radio, positioning of support boats on one end of the start line or another. Of course now we've had to define the areas on the water where support and coach boats can now operate!

“The worst thing I think coaching does is intimidate the players who have no coach. If you need a coach to help you at your Championship, I don't think you're ready to sail in it! One more layer of cost to a struggling program. What's happened to self initiative?

“I was fortunate to be the PRO at the U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship (Leiter Cup) a few years back. At that event the parents were excused until the event concluded, and coaching clinics were done for everyone attending by very qualified instructors. A great way to run a National Championship!

“Unfortunately, at that event we had some wild weather. The "mommys" were the Event Committee. Fortunately, I had excellent counseling on when to race from my team and the Chief Judge - all who were seasoned competitors. Can you imagine teen age girls too "tired" to sail the last race of the event, when the outcome was still in doubt, on a beautiful day with a good breeze?

“Spare me from the "mommys". Bring back the draft!”


The Publisher
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Jan 9, 2011, 3:21 PM

Post #2 of 5 (15620 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] Pusses and Wusses - Has America gone soft? [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From John Vandemoer:
I don't think we are a nation of pusses and wusses but rather a nation of people with very narrow perspective. What gets left out of the coverage of the Gov. of Penn. was that the conditions were forecasted to be feet of snow and wind of up to 50 mph and more, almost hurricane. I think it was the right call for the NFL to postpone the game rather than kill it's fan base on the way to the game. Call me crazy but I think rational thinking is better than emotional bravado.

This same rational thought can be applied to Terry Bischoff's situation. I was the head coach at that Lieter Trophy and what Terry doesn't mention is that it had been a very windy regatta including the day before when we had to rescue more than half the fleet - a big deal when we only had 2 safety boats for 50 girls. The conditions on the day that Terry referred to were forecasted to build, and as we had already gotten in some great racing when the breeze started to build, the committee made a call to end the event before conditions got out of hand for two days in a row. In my mind this was a good call by the committee which the PRO ignored and got lucky when the conditions didn't build as forecasted.

Again this is a case where irrational emotional thought out ruled rational thinking. I was furious with the PRO for ignoring the committee's rational call. As a coach I love it when we can push young sailors beyond their safety zone and have them sail in breeze and feel confident to sail in bigger conditions. But as responsible adults, leaders, and rational thinkers we also need to weigh the risks and do what's right. I coach my sailors every day to make their choices on the race course based on rational thought not on emotion. So be tough but smart.


The Publisher
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Jan 9, 2011, 3:25 PM

Post #3 of 5 (15619 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] Pusses and Wusses - Has America gone soft? [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Terence Bischoff:

After a reread of John's note, the count of boats on the course for the day before the race in the question went more like this:

Two coach boats, one of which who went out onto the race course, offshore Lake Michigan, didn't refill their gas tank before, and then ran out of gas.

Three RC boats, two of which were helping with capsized kids. I had the finish. It wasn't the wind; it was the buildup of waves that caused a problem. Biggest problem, which I think has now been addressed, is that the age span for the Leiter was 13 thru 18. Too big a disparity in age/talent. The youngest did have trouble with the waves, as did the Optis at the Orange Bowl this year, on the first day. I wasn't the PRO there, but a large percentage of kids didn't start or finish one or all of the first three races. Big waves again for the little kids, like my grandkid, who thought it was fun, but had never seen waves like that even on Lake Michigan! Can't wait to get back, after spending most of his time on little Waukesha County puddles.

Two Judge/Umpire Boats. Assisting.

At least one boat with the "committee" aboard. And a doctor.

And, a few, too few for sure, boats designated by the YC as rescue boats.

Just to set the record straight.




The Publisher
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Jan 9, 2011, 3:40 PM

Post #4 of 5 (15615 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] Pusses and Wusses - Has America gone soft? [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Thank you John for your observations. But I feel I should clarify some "thinking" that was going on the Signal Boat that morning. Yes, even as unpaid RC members vs others who are paid to work at regattas, we really do feel an obligation toward the safety of the competitors. I thought I referred to the weather conditions the previous day as rather wild.

The discussion from the Committee, which the folks on the Signal Boat would attest to, was that the girls were "tired", and therefore the final race of the Championship should be abandoned. Please remember, that these were not long races, 35 to 40 mins. It had nothing to do with the possibility of a repeat of the weather we had seen the day before. As a matter of fact, I had been in contact via cell phone, with a "friend" in a tower at an airstrip in Milwaukee, 90 miles away, and in his opinion, we had good sailing weather ahead. So, I guess if that is "lucky", so be it.

Prior to the start of the previous race, at the Chief Judge's suggestion, we posted an announcement to the flee, that there would be another race to follow to complete the series. We felt, since we had a good forecast, that was the proper procedure to follow, so that the top contenders would understand the playing field they were on, and could plan their strategy accordingly. This was imparted to the Committee between races, but I don't think they quite understood what that meant.

Cheers,
Terry


PaulK
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Jan 25, 2011, 7:40 PM

Post #5 of 5 (15361 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] Pusses and Wusses - Has America gone soft? [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Tough but smart is a good credo. I've been on Bermuda Races that the RC delayed because of weather conditions that would have sent the fleet out into dangerously nasty conditions. Some of the "macho" guys thought it was a wuss move, but sending a fleet of more than 100 boats out into a storm doesn't actually make for a fair race - which is the RC's actual goal.


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