An open letter to Nate Jozsa

An open letter to Nate Jozsa

One thing you will discover, I believe, with age and maturity, is that life just is not always fair.Sometimes the guy who works the hardest doesn't get the rewards he is seeking, whether it's an advancement at work or the final payoff in the athletic arena.

It's how we handle the trying moments that reveals our inner character and fortitude.Sometimes, it also reveals our flaws. I prefer to view life's obstacles and difficulties from an optimistic perspective. Isn't there aways a bright side?

So, you lost a state championship wrestling match? I believe that means you were second in the state. You got to experience the thrill of participating in the Grand March, which I've seen now from a seat in the stands for 38 consecutive years. It must have been a memorable moment to have been on that floor as the lights were flashing and you paraded around with the other championship contenders.

Journalists like myself try to find that special angle to a story. When someone sets school records for career takedowns and career technical falls in only two years of attending a school, and at that one with an outstanding tradition covering decades in the sport, that's a newsworthy event deserving of recognition.

When journalists cover an event such as the state wresting meet, they aren't just seeking the winners to profile. That's understandable because there's always a bigger picture than a particular match or game. That was emphasized to me years ago.

In fact, it was at a state wrestling tournament, much like the one which ended Saturday night at the UI State Farm Center. With a bit of trepidation, I sought to interview an area athlete who had qualified for the championship match and had gotten beat.

A lot of similarities, really, to the position you were in following your Class 1A 138-pound match on Saturday. Do you know what that young man said when I asked to interview him?

He told me, "I'm so glad you still want to talk to me even after I didn't win. I put in a lot of work to get here and you talking to me now will help me get over the loss. What do you want to know?"

What did I want to know? Wow.

No middle finger extended in the air as I approached him. No sentences filled with more profanities than other words. Just a gracious and respectful -- though obviously heartbroken -- teen-ager explaining  his feelings and emotions as he was trying to cope with the day's disappointment.

It could have been you.

It makes me wonder. What if the roles had been reversed this Saturday? Isn't it interesting to consider such possibilities?

Suppose I had been the teen-aged athlete who lost a 1-0 decision in a hard-fought match and you had been the professional reporter assigned to cover the event. How would you feel to be disrespected publicly by that teen-ager in front of many of your colleagues as well as dozens of other people whose names you don't even know?

Of course, I can't put myself in your shoes and truly imagine how you would feel if that had happened to you, but I can accurately speak about how it made me feel.

Remember the part I mentioned earlier about life not being fair? Instances like this give a guy cause to wonder. Why bother? Why care?

Most of us in the working world have jobs where we get paid for eight-hour shifts (or perhaps seven-hour shifts) five days a week. If you've put your hours in by the end of the work day on Friday, what do you have to  look forward to?

My wife would have loved for me to have had a day off Saturday, instead of volunteering 14 hours to attend a state wrestling tournament because I thought it was the right thing to do. After all, the circulation area I cover for my daily newspaper had three athletes advance into state championship matches and it didn't seem fair that they would not receive coverage for the moments which would be the pinnacle of their season.

Win or lose. It was a special occasion. Or so I thought.

It's not beyond the realm of comprehension to think that you could have won that final match 1-0. How would it feel to bask in the limelight without a media presence to document the event because they'd worked their hours for the week?

Wouldn't seem fair, would it?

But here's what is really unfair. I mean, extremely unfair.

The actions and conduct of one individual often serve as a black mark to those associated with the person. What are folks going to think about the school you attend, Argenta-Oreana, when they hear about the behavior of one of its students at a state tournament?

Why tarnish the name of a good school with outstanding administrative leaders? And what about your coach?

My goodness, in 38 years of actively covering wrestling I can't think of many that compare in commitment and knowledge of the sport than Gary Cook. When you -- or at least when I -- talk about class people, he's at the head of the list.

I feel so sorry for you, but not because of that one-point loss. There are so many valuable lessons that can be learned through sports and they are available equally to champions and to those not even good enough to make the varsity team.

Sportsmanship. Pride. Dealing with adversity. Grace. Rising above. Discipline.Seeking improvement. Bettering oneself. Embracing challenges. Courtesy. Rebounding from setbacks. Moving forward. Doing what's right.

Oh yes, did I mention sportsmanship?

I didn't mention winning. That's no accident.

A wrestling match ends in six minutes. Life goes on indefinitely. There's still a lot to be learned.

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LincolnLounger wrote on February 23, 2014 at 9:02 am

Good for you, Fred.  Well written.

Poortaste wrote on February 23, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Mr. Kroner,

Here is my open letter to you.  All you have basically shown Mr. Josza is that you deserve the last laugh.  Congrats on calling out a young man who had just seen his dream crushed.  Instead of giving Mr. Josza time to cool down and process his feelings, you being a typical press lackey want the story at all costs.  You can hide under your first amendmandt right and call out a teenage boy, but I will call a spade a spade.  

You and Mr. Josza are more similar then you like to admit in this article.  He did act inappropriately after being denied his state title.  But YOU sir have acted equally inappropriately buy publically calling out a teenage kid after being denied an interview.  I am sorry you were away from your family for an extended period of time to cover the state tournament, that is no excuse to take the time to calculate and document a personal vendetta against a high school boy.  Perhaps Mr. Josza is more responsible then you think.  I'm sure almost 6 hours after the event ended he wouldn't of pressed send on an article that forever will demoralize you, he might of just been the bigger man and let by gones be by gones.  Perhaps your time would have been more well spent composing a article about the young men in the state tournament and how hard it is to get to the pinacle of Illinois wrestling.

You sir and the tactical way you wanted to further tear down this young man at one of his lower moments are a disgrace.

Poortaste wrote on February 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm

The more I read Mr Kroner's article comments on other forums discussing this I see a pattern of behavior of a bully trying to always be in the face of high school athletes.  I have now read stories on Mr. Kroner not giving any breathing room to female track athletes, basketball players, and other wrestlers.

Quite frankly this needs to stop.  If you have a problem with this article and Mr. Kroner's bully tactics please email and let him know this needs to stop!  Last I checked these were just high schoolers!

IlliniFan2044 wrote on February 23, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Are these lessons you so eloquently listed out things this young man needs to learn? Yes. Was public humiliation the most appropriate way to address this issues? Absolutely not. This article is nothing but your retribution towards this young man for the disrespect he dished out to you on that day. If you were really interested in helping him to become a better person you would have written this letter and mailed it to him, his coach, and his school officials who would have addressed it with him privately and in an appropriate forum.

mommarocks wrote on February 23, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Fred Kroner, you sir, are a Bully.

Jozsa wrote on February 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

I am Nates dad I was down on the floor very close to this when it happened I do not condone what my son said to this reporter but this reporter was very aggressive in trying to interview Nathan he was asked two times to give a statement and Nathan said no comment and on the third time he blew up on him I have been coaching this sport for 8 years now and figured out very early on when any kid loses to give them their space I would have thought after 38 years of covering this sport that he would have learned this too I personally think if he would have gave Nathan 20 or 30 minutes he would have gotten the interview he wanted I personally feel that this reporters letter is very vindictive maybe this reporter should have gotten some sleep before he posted this at 1 o'clock in the morning I had a good long talk with Nathan I hope this reporters editor has a good long talk to him.

Nice Davis wrote on February 23, 2014 at 6:02 pm

I hope someone has a good long talk with you about punctuation marks.

Matt Madsen wrote on February 23, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I see the more things change, the more things stay the same.  While I truly believe this athletes actions were wrong, Mr. Kroner could have handled this totally different.  Let us go back in time, shall we. Twenty six years to be exact. After losing the final match of my career by a referees decision, with no time on the clock, Mr. Kroner tried the same tactics with me. Lucky for me I was able to keep walking to the locker rooms and avoid losing my cool.  I understand reporters are after the best story they can. The closer they can get it to the end, the more raw emotion they will get.  Well Fred, you got raw emotion.  I am sorry that it wasnt up to your editorial standards, but when you push hard enough, sometimes people push back. After being told "no comment", you should have let it go. But as your past history has shown, you dont. I have had the pleasure and the unpleasure of reading your columns for the greater part of 30 years and you sir, are no professional.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on February 24, 2014 at 5:02 am
Profile Picture

I went to school with Matt Madsen. I'm disappointed to learn that it was 26 years ago. But if I did the math ...


Fred Kroner interviewed me once, after a UHS football game. Luckily, we won. Thus, I am not scarred by the incident.

clearing the air wrote on February 25, 2014 at 3:02 am

Thousands of central Illinois kids can say they were interviewed by Mr. Kroner. Many kids knew it was a big game - especially if they played at a small school - if Mr. Kroner was there in attendance.

jmmaxey wrote on February 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

Wow... this is a sad blog! It is, sorry to say, a bitter reflection of a growing segmant of our society today. 

Young people are watching pro athletes rant and rave after a game on tv to reporters, to only then hear commentaries of others supporting or rationalizing this barbaric behavior!

Then we as a society wonder why our young non-professional athletes are responding in the same fashion? We do not need to look any farther than the examples being set to these young souls on TV everyday. It is an "all about me" attitude that births this behavior. It is the "everybody deserves a trophy generation" that reacts like a foot stomping child, who has no discipline in their home, going berzerk because they are not getting their way!

Where does this start you may ask? It starts at home. It starts with an example of discipline and love from parents who are rooted and grounded in Truth. Where is this Truth found you may ask? It is found in the Word of God that we as a society are ever increasingly turning our backs on, and have watched it slip out of our families and kicked to the curb in our public schools!

It is there that you will find that teaching, that our society so much longs for in a mixed up self serving world.

Love others as you would yourself...  do unto others as you would have done unto you.

The one I really had a tough time learning... forgive if you want to be forgiven!

It took courage to write a response to your predicament the other night... I applaud your addressing it so elagantly.

My hope is that those of us who read it truly look at both sides of the issue and see that we all contribute to this epidemic and seek the only answer that can heal us... JESUS. - mark maxey


Poortaste wrote on February 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Just wondeirng how many times you can polietly say "no comment" while being hounded by a reporter after a emotional moment????  Fred should be working for TMZ and not a newspaper with tactics like his

NateyJ wrote on February 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I like Cupcakes and Ponies. 

pantherparent wrote on February 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm

You obviously have never been an athlete Sir. When my 138 lb in the same top 16 bracket as Jozsa has a loss I always give him a few moments to reflect, calm down, absorb. What kind of a bully attacks a young man. We call them teenagers not adults for a reason. They are impulsive and react from emotions. Your supposed to be the adult not complain you didn't have to be there and your wife wanted you home. Well if its your job to cover it then guess what yes you did. Your childish and a bully. You should have taken some time to mull it all over. You say you tried to put yourself in his shoes. NO you did not if so you would never have badgered a young man in a emotional moment over a middle finger. Truth is your feeling where hurt and you got embarrassed. So its do unto others as they do to you. NOT at all. You didn't like being embarrassedand lashed out, now how do you think he feels. Except he didn't highlight an ugly moment of your live to exploit.
Guess its good I wasn't a wrestler just a wrestlers mother because i probably would have reacted more physically then the bird after saying no comment 2 times. How about you write the information about his career achievements. Not just mention it briefly. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Also to the person who commented after Jozsa`s dad. Your a jerk Punctuation do you think he stopped after reading the attack on his son and said I sure need to open my laptop and make sure all this is written properly.

clearing the air wrote on February 25, 2014 at 3:02 am

Mr. Kroner is being made out to be the guy who committed the biggest error here?

There are three classes of wrestlers and 14-15 weight classifications for each class, so that's 42-45 runners up. That means 41-44 second place finishers did not act in this manner, cussing at multiple media outlets and extending middle fingers to another. And the kid did it in front of all those fans who were unfortunate enough to sit close enough to the action. The kid did it in front of thousands of fans. He was the one who made it a public spectacle long before Mr. Kroner wrote this. 

thismommathinks wrote on February 26, 2014 at 5:02 pm

I am amazed at how many seem quick to defend these poor actions of a teenager who is old enough to know how he was behaving and, if properly raised, to know that it was wrong.   Was it disappointing to lose? Absolutely.  Should a reporter respect that this athlete is having a difficult time accepting a loss and leave him be even though he's interviewed many other athletes who could do so in a respectful manner? Sure.   Does any of this excuse this behavior? Absolutely not.  To blame someone else for how this athlete behaved only reinforces to the athlete (and every other athlete around him) that this behavior is acceptable and someone elses fault. It tells him he has no personal responsibility for his actions.  What a disgrace and disservice to this student.  So sad. 

playing for keeps wrote on March 06, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Wow. I don't read the NG often anymore and it seems I missed a doozy. My son, I will call him "Joe" here, participated in 4 state championship games and only won one. Mr. Kroner probably has a better idea how many times he has interviewed Joe than I do, but, over the years, it has had to be in the dozens - both after big wins and devastating losses. I can honestly say, I have never had any complaints from Joe about the process, no matter how upset or po'ed he was. I don't know that Mr. Kroner necessarily waited a certain amount of time after a contest before approaching him, and I don't think Joe cared. It was part of the price paid to have the priviledge to compete. There were times Joe didn't feel like talking to anybody like when he was really in pain playing the entire season with an injury that required surgery after the championship game, but we were trying to keep it from being public knowledge. Mr. Kroner knew what was going on, and respected Joe's privacy and made his work quick. Mr. Kroner often beat the family to Joe after games, and I listened from the side to several of their conversations. Mr. Kroner was never anything but professional and respectful. He had a job to do and did it. I don't know any of Joe's teammates that had a problem with his methods either. Mr. Kroner's job for 38 years has been dealing with kids, both happy and disappointed, and he has done it very, very well. Based on that and personal experience, I would suggest the problem is with the young man, or to identify the root cause, his father. Maybe dad spent too much time on the sport itself, and not enough time on the priviledges of competeing, respecting the process and sportsmanship. Teaching a kid to be gracious in defeat is not teaching a kid to lose, nor does it indicate a lessened desire or "heart" to win. These are the lessons that sport is supposed to be for in the first place. I like to think we taught Joe those things and it came out in the end. The bottom line is that if Joe acted the  way this young man did, Mr. Kroner would not have felt compelled to write this story. Joe would have made a public apology within minutes and also would have suffered the consequences at home. Now, Joe is no Angel, and he has a tenacious competitive temper. He did a few things on the field I wasn't necessarily proud of, but he also paid the price for those. He learned early in life that there was a time to turn it off, and that seems to be a lesson lost, or never taught, to young Mr. Jozsa. Joe is now in the middle of a successful college career, and looking back, a few years removed, I think he may have learned more about life and handling adversity and disappointment with class and dignity by being on the short end of a few state championships, than if he had won them all. I am glad of that. Thank goodness for Fred Kroner and what he has done for high school athletics in the NG area. As for both Jozsas, you owe Mr. Kroner an apology.

tellingthetruth wrote on March 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Well said.  The article attached here shows sportsmanship at its finest.  We all could learn a lot from this young adult.