Monday, November 12, 2012

What's with the whole giving back to judo thing?

Today I did not go to judo and I felt guilty about it. This is despite the fact that judo went along fine without me. There was a judo tournament in San Diego today that many of the players from the West Coast Judo Training Center attended, so there were not many people at practice. Crystal Butts offered to run practice so that I could stay here and work on the update for the computer game my company just released. (Thanks, Crystal, for being awesome!)

Even though I was kindly invited to the tournament, since I won the world championships on this exact day 28 years ago, when I was living in San Diego, and the folks there unbelievably remembered that and invited me down, I did not make the three-hour round trip to drive there and instead stayed in and worked.


There is no denying that I benefited greatly from my involvement in judo as a child and young adult. It got me off the streets, kept me from getting into drugs, kept me in good health and introduced me to some very positive adult role models.

The University of California, Riverside, where I earned my Ph.D. also was of great benefit to me. I learned skills and knowledge that have enabled me to write said computer game, found or co-found three companies. So were the University of Minnesota, where I received my MBA,  Washington University in St. Louis, where I received my BSBA. No one tells me I am obligated to "give back" to those schools, although they certainly do all ask me for money on a regular basis.

My daughters have been involved in track, swimming and soccer for several years each and no one ever told me that they owed it to the sport of soccer to come and coach for free for the rest of their lives.

So ... our book is coming out soon - I don't know exactly, but our nice editor at Black Belt told me that as soon as the copy editor and art department finishes waving their magic wands over it, it can go to press.  I expect we'll sell a few copies. Jim said he's going to use his half of the royalties to pay for expenses for their judo program, especially since he had the players from his club demonstrate half the techniques. Personally, it's his money and if he spends it on expensive cigars, hot women and cheap whisky - or vice versa, it's all the same to me.

I let my daughter, Julia pick a charity for my share, since I think our family has enough and I thought it would be good for Julia, who has never needed anything, to do a little research on programs for needy people. Ronda, who demonstrated the other half the techniques, agreed with me. Julia did not pick anything related to judo but rather, a program that rescues children from prostitution and pays for their housing and education. It was completely her choice, but when she chose to have the money go to rescuing children her age from the sex trade rather than funding someone's trip to a judo tournament in Texas, I was fine with it.

As a wise woman (not me!) once said, when someone was haranguing a friend of hers relentlessly about how he was a bad person if he did not come and do a clinic for free to raise money for some judo activity, because he "owed it to the sport".

"Did it ever occur to you that people might want to contribute to some other cause with their time and energy? Maybe they want to save the whales!"

Which made me wonder, what is it with judo?  Why are we supposed to give back to it and does that have the opposite effect of driving people away? Because if someone gives to you and then acts like you owe them something back, it's not really giving is it? That's more like a loan.

Is it like that everywhere or just in the U.S.? Maybe that attitude isn't even everywhere in the U.S. Do people in jiujitsu have that same attitude? Where does this attitude come from?


Michael Hultström said...

This is so everywhere. In Sweden, it is more prevalent in other sports as well. Mostly because sport is not a school activity as in the US, and 99% of all children's and youth's sports in Sweden is run by volunteers. If you continue to the junior, and certainly senior level, you are expected to help out at the club as a way of pay-back for your competition/clinic expenses. Those that make it on the senior level and compete internationally are supported by the club with at least the hope that they will continue with the sport, and at the club, once they stop competing.

So, I think it is an international thing, possibly tied to volunteer-heavy sports (like Judo in the US as I understand). And, yes I think this drives some people away who would like to train and maybe run a clinic every now and again, but feel that they are expected to do more.

plam said...

I was just thinking about the problem from the opposite point of view. I was at a tournament on the weekend where they didn't have enough staff.

I say staff, not volunteers: things run more smoothly in Quebec than in Ontario, where the tournament was, I think, because paid staff, or long-term volunteers (who have their costs covered), know about how to run various technological systems (draw systems, video replay systems). Of course you still need someone to point the videocamera at the players, but that's not the biggest problem.

Is more money the solution? It seems to help. Then the question is: where does the cash come from?

Certainly for teaching judo, there's a culture of giving people money for teaching in Quebec. I think that's good. You shouldn't really rely on people to volunteer every week for decades.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Michael -
My point exactly. It's like going to visit your mom and the whole time she complains about how you don't come to visit. (Well, my mom doesn't, it's just an example).

Plam -
I think probably getting paid a relatively fair amount makes a difference. Even though I was on scholarship, the universities DID receive money for me being there from someone, so perhaps there is not such an attitude of "You owe us"

dsimon3387 said...

Its great the attitude of "giving" you are creating with your daughters vis a vis the money. In the older Ju Jutsu stuff people were indeed expected to provide great service to the art.... Where as in China and India there were practical matters, i.e. Sifu would get 20 yen and an occasional dinner for teaching.... Japanese allegiance was often intense. I think some of this may have carried over to Judo.

My feeling is that we all owe it to the kids...I teach a kids class like you do because the kids deserve it. The adults are the ones who seem to "ask" for stuff and then hardly appreciate it.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I hadn't thought about it, but you're right. The kids do tend to appreciate anything given to them and it is the adults who expect it.

plam said...

I was thinking about the issue some more. Universities are a bit different from "judo" in that universities can do something with cash more effectively. In large part, I think this is because they have paid staff.

As you point out, it is somewhat relevant that universities are not generally in the business of educating people for free. Unless they have tons of endowment. In which case they're hoping that you will give them money back later.

Money and time are different, and "judo" (I quote it because it's actually quite heterogeneous) seems to be set up to handle time donations more effectively than money donations. This can be hard to sustain, and I think it should change to some extent.

I understand that soccer referees, for instance, are paid much more often than judo referees are paid.

Anonymous said...

Next time you talk with Blackbelt asked them to put up a pre-order link. :-) Were all dying to get our hands on it.