“Sports do not build character, they reveal it.”
It’s fair to say the majority of people involved in sports think they teach and build character. What if I told you that was wrong? What if I told you it was a total myth? Sports do not teach character. Sports do not build character. Unless..
Sports do not teach or build character unless the coach makes it a priority. Just being a part of team does not guarantee an athlete will be taught the numerous life lessons sports have to offer. I believe in the power of sports to teach our young people character. I make it a priority to include some form of character education in every practice. Does your child’s coach?
As with anything in life, you know what happens when people assume… We cannot just assume our kids will learn valuable character lessons through sports. We must make it a priority. Too many coaches and parents assume the athlete will learn the lesson by simply playing the game and listening to pre and post-game talks. Real and meaningful character education takes place every day. It is planned and thought it. It is a priority.
One of the biggest problems occurs when character is pushed aside for winning games. This happens more frequently as one goes up the competitive level of play. Too often real life values and character traits are ignored as coaches and players chase the next win. We place too high a pedestal on winning and not enough on the process, integrity, character, and effort given by all participants. It’s true there’s only one winner on the scoreboard, but if that’s the only measure of success one goes by, the person and the wins will be hollow.
Coaches are entrusted with young people’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It is a rare gift that few in society have the honor of. According to Joe Ehrmann’s book, Inside Out Coaching, coaches are the number one positive influence on youth who play sports. Coaching is more than X’s and O’s. It’s about having a positive influence and making a difference in the lives of the athletes. Coaching is helping create attitudes, traits, and beliefs in athletes which will help them achieve success in life and become valuable members of their community.
Now that we’ve established what the myth is and why character is important, what should we do? First, begin brainstorming ideas with your coaching staff if you’re a coach. If you’re a parent, reach out to your child’s coach and ask them what they do for character education. Secondly, begin to read as much as you can and follow people online who promote character and integrity in sports. Finally, commit to making a difference. Commit to teaching athletes more than X’s and O’s. Commit to influencing their lives for the better, and helping them grow into the best versions of themselves.
Here are some resources and people who influence me and who I follow.
Joe Ehrmann–Inside Out Coaching & Season of Life @JoeEhrmann76
Adam Bradley–Co-host of The Hardwood Hustle @ABradley5
Tony Dungy–Quiet Strength, Uncommon, The Mentor Leader @Tony Dungy
Positive Coaching Alliance–@PositiveCoachingUS positivecoach.org
Proactive Coaching- @Proactivecoach
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.