You Can’t Speak To Me That Way!

March 15, 2019

Picture this: You and your teammates are playing a basketball game. You’re in the midst of an intense match when all of a sudden, two of your teammates start to argue. You turn and yell at your teammates to stop fighting. They look at you and … well … just quit playing. What’s going on? you think to yourself. We’re leading and everyone is going to just stop playing?

Now, if you’re thinking That would never happen!—it did, but it wasn’t with human teammates. Every year, the Iditarod gathers the best mushers and their dogs to compete in a 1,000-mile trail sled dog race around Alaska. Although there are checkpoints throughout the race where teams can rest, the Iditarod tests the stamina and physical abilities of the teams throughout the very cold and grueling course.

Frank Kovalchek from USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Each team trains during the year for these conditions, but there are some things that even the best teams can’t anticipate. Take what happened to French musher Nicolas Petit, who was over 800 miles into the race when he yelled at Joey, one of his dogs, for fighting with another dog on the team. Instead of following Petit’s orders, Joey and the rest of the team of dogs decided to stop. It seems like Petit’s dogs weren’t too fond of him yelling at one of their teammates. So, after commanding a big lead, Petit watched several teams pass him by because his dogs went on strike and refused to go any further. Ultimately, Petit and his team “scratched” or pulled out of the race. Just goes to show, yelling isn’t exactly a problem solver—and in this case, it was a problem maker!

So who won the race? Veteran musher Pete Kaiser of Alaska. It’s his first Iditarod win, and he did it in nine days, twelve hours, thirty-nine minutes, and six seconds, with his dogs Marrow and Lucy leading the pack. Congratulations, Mr. Kaiser and team!

Instead of yelling, what would you have done to get Joey to stop fighting with his teammate? What are some good habits for working in a team?