Getting rid of my 'gatekeeper' tendencies - Denny Scott editorial
A couple weeks ago, members of the editorial team at The Citizen, including myself, Editor Shawn Loughlin, Publisher Deb Sholdice and weekend reporter John Stephenson, found ourselves on a golf course north of Goderich for a good cause and a good time.
Golf has never been a sport in my wheelhouse. I’ve always been involved in sports that involve more lower-body strength, like soccer or hockey (on the defensive side, anyway). Anything that requires the kind of upper-body strength and precision that golf does, never really seemed to suit me.
That’s not to say I haven’t played golf - when I was a teen there was a year or two where I spent a good deal of time on the links in Seaforth. It’s just to say I’ve never been good at it.
I was nervous to go on the course because there were some experienced golfers in our foursome and, like most people, I hate showing my weaknesses.
Fortunately for me, I was with three other people who were less interested in being gatekeepers of the sport than they were in just having a nice afternoon out, and it really got me thinking about the former kind of people: those who hold activities out of reach of those who might not be at the same skill level, or those who don’t quite fit the mold of the kind of person those gatekeepers want taking part in “their” activities..
This goes back to an issue I’ve talked about previously: tribalism. I’ve talked about it in regard to the divisions created by going to different schools or being from different towns. It can be great if people are working together towards a common goal, but it can be debilitating when pitting groups or communities against each other.
Gatekeeping, however, is taking that kind of division to another level: one of choosing to be part of a group that intentionally excludes other people.
So, standing on that golf course, with people who could’ve been frustrated with me being able to move my ball towards the hole with just one in three swings, I was glad I was standing with people interested in having fun instead of keeping their sport pure and free of the amateurs.
Growing up with an interest in video games, computers, comic books and high fantasy books, I know how appealing it can be to want to wall off your interests from those who aren’t as dedicated as the gatekeepers. Heck, I can’t pretend I’m sometimes not that same way, but fortunately for me, I’m becoming better every day and that’s because I’m a father.
In the last couple years, I started sharing some of my interests with my daughter. Between LEGO and some classic Nintendo games (alongside some newer ones, like a PAW Patrol title), my daughter’s childhood is becoming more like mine than I ever
And, just to set the record straight, I didn’t force any of that on her - whether it’s with my hobbies or my wife’s proclivity to equestrian activities, we let our daughter seek out the activities on her own.
Now I’ve been through this before. I have a brother who is 10 years younger than I, so when I was playing video games at 15 years old, he was five and wanted to join. I wasn’t the best big brother, however, because I was often frustrated by him slowing my games down. I also often played single-player games just so I could keep my hobbies to myself.
I was a gatekeeper, not wanting someone else to enjoy my hobby because their involvement took away ever so slightly from my own enjoyment.
Maybe it’s the two decades between then and now, or maybe, like I suspect, it’s becoming responsible for someone else’s life and development, but I’ve got much more patience when it comes time to wait for Mary Jane to put the right pieces of LEGO together or figure out how to jump from one platform to the next in her PAW Patrol game.
So, as I discovered in my own living room, either on the couch or sitting with my daughter at the LEGO table, and as I was reminded on the golf course, activities, hobbies, passions, sports and pastimes are more fun to enjoy when we invite everyone to take part in them, regardless of the skill level involved or how much extra time it might take. So, open up and share what you enjoy doing with those around you, it might be more fun than you think.