I should be writing another installment of the Flyball Book project, but I can't stop thinking about the drama going on in Flyball Land right now.
Here's the story in a nutshell. I'll leave club names out of it. I wasn't there to witness any of this, so if I get any of the facts wrong, please correct me (I know you guys will).
So you've got two clubs, Club A and Club B. They do not like each other. Old history, bad blood. Both very fast, respected clubs at the top of their game right now.
Club A has some fast green dogs that have a tendency to run into the other team's runback area. They are not aggressive dogs, but they get in the way. Club A knows this and tries to manage it (they have put an extra person into the runback area to block those green dogs from crossing over, etc.).
Club B has some green dogs, too, and they are trying to run their best, too. They are getting very upset and irritated because throughout the weekend, Club A's dogs (and handlers) keep running into their runback area. At one point, one of Club A's dogs is standing in Club B's runback area and almost gets hit by a Club B dog swinging on the end of a tug. At another point, a person from Club B runs to block a different Club A dog from crossing over on her dog (he is in the process of doing so).
Club A interprets these actions as malicious on Club B's part and accuses Club B of intentionally trying to harm their dogs (saying Club B tried to swing their dog into Club A's dog while it was in Club B's runback area, and tried to kick Club A's dog when it crossed over. No contact was actually made in either instance, but Club A says there was intention.). So Club A officially accuses Club B. By filing charges with NAFA (for "conduct prejudicial to the best interest of Flyball," per the NAFA rulebook. See section 5.2, page 23: http://www.flyball.org/rules/nafa_rules_2010-10-01.pdf).
So now both clubs plus witnesses will be traveling to the Detroit board meeting for a disciplinary hearing in April.
It gets a little stickier. Club A also happens to have two people in NAFA leadership positions -- one is a board member and is actually on the NAFA Disciplinary committee (the committee that investigates complaints like this one and determines whether there is a need for a hearing or not. Since this person just joined the committee in 2011, he may not have been involved in the pre-hearing for this particular incident.).
There are two sides to every story, right? (My boyfriend likes to say there are three sides to every story -- mine, yours, and what really happened). Club A's perception is that Club B was trying to hurt their dogs. Club B's perception is that they were just trying to mind their own business in their own lane and protect their dogs from unprovoked crossovers. Add in all the NAFA connections, and now you've got the perception of unfairness/entitlement at a higher level as well.
Everybody involved might be telling their truth and doing what they think is best/fair/allowable. But I don't see anything good coming out of this situation. Club A's going to get hurt, Club B's going to get hurt, and NAFA's going to get hurt. There will be accusations and mud slinging and nastiness all around. Drama just leads to more drama, and once you're on the drama train it's hard to get off.
Not that I'm always the drama-free innocent bystander, full of wisdom and insight. I've been on my share of flyball drama trains, too (perfect example: Just Call Me Lady Gag(a)). But it always leaves me feeling like shit.
This past summer I went to a really cool shooting camp where I was instructed by two of the top women pistol shooters in the U.S. Between the two of them they've won multiple national and world titles in a variety of pistol shooting competitions. Both are highly skilled and highly respected.
The History Channel's new reality show, Top Shot, tried to talk them into auditioning for Season 2, and they both declined. "But WHY????" I asked them. "It's such a great show! And you would be awesome!"
And one of them said, "Nothing good can come out of me being on that show." She went on to say how the cameras were always on the contestants, looking for drama -- the show pitted people against each other in very stressful situations, then captured all the drama that unfolded and made a TV show out of it. And the show's editing (geared towards entertainment and viewership, of course) could really make the contestants look like idiots, or villains, or both. Many of the Season 1 contestants, touted as the most talented, respected shooters in the world, walked off that show with seriously damaged reputations.
My shooting instructor already had a stellar reputation. And she was smart enough to know it, and appreciate it, and protect it. And went out of her way to avoid the spotlight and the drama, and just focus on what she is great at -- competing and teaching others.
It's not too late for Club A, Club B, and NAFA. Take the high road, people.
I'm thankful to play in a region where, aside from the snarky comment here and there, we all get along and are respectful of each other. My teammate Kristie's favorite flyball saying is "Safety first!" and our region is a really good ambassador of that philosophy.
This is how flyball should be. Right?