“Don’t think… DO.”
Those are the famous words of John Kennedy Snr, the Hawthorn Football Club Coach that has become a living legend of the club. It’s three quarter time in the Grand Final of 1975 and Kennedy’s Hawks are well down. They have little, if any hope of victory. His players are standing around in a huddle, with Kennedy leading them to at least honour their belief in themselves. His players are telling him they think they should do this, try that. In an interview with Mike Sheehan on Fox Sports in 2013, Kennedy says to Sheehan he was sick and tired of hearing his players think. He just wanted them to get out there on the field and do. And so the moment came. The exact quote goes like this;
“At least do something! DO! Don’t think, don’t hope, DO! At least you can come off and say ‘I did this. I shepherded, I played on. At least I DID something.”
His team became known as ‘Kennedy’s Commandos’ for his professional attitude to coaching, for the fitness he instilled in what to that day was a part-time sport played by carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers and the like. It was the beginning of the move to making Australian Rules Football in Victoria a professional sport with salaries to match.
Kennedy went on to coach Hawthorn to three premierships, 1961, 1971 and 1976. 1961 proved to be the first year Hawthorn had ever won a premiership. By the time his coaching career was over he had coached three premiership winning teams from five Grand Final appearances. His statue appears life-like at Waverley Park today. And when asked how he feels when he walks on by the statue, on his way to visit his old club, what does he say? In that same interview in 2013 he said he felt the sculptor had done an excellent job in that he had made something out of nothing.
If only we were all so humble.
Imagine for a moment if the same principle was applied to everyday life. Perhaps a lot more would get done. Perhaps. But perhaps society as a whole and each of us as individuals would be a lot worse off. The thing is, it seems to happen on a regular basis. Sure, on the football field, there’s barely time for thought. Instinct takes over. But imagine this scenario for a moment (of a fictitious nature);
A boy jumps off a bridge. The bridge was considered secured for such occurences, with a suicide prevention barrier installed years earlier and CCTV 24 hours a day. The barrier cost $15million to install. CCTV cost more on top of that.
Counselling groups and suicide prevention community organisations spoke out in support of a higher, more expensive prevention barrier to replace the existing barrier. Anyone opposed to the initiative was hounded down as mindless and careless, or at the very best caring for the almighty dollar and its cost-effectiveness over and above the safety of children and adults alike. A new barrier was costed at $20million. The move was supported by local council and state government. They felt any opposition shown by them would lose them votes at the next election. And besides, it was only $20million. That’d get lost in the State Budget coming up in a few months anyway.
The existing barrier was replaced. Suicides since install have been zero. Suicides prior to install were 2 in 15 years.
Was the new suicide prevention barrier necessary? Has it been effective? Do you consider there was good reason for the action that was taken?