I’ve been doing a lot of watching and reflecting, and I’m really concerned.
I’ve relinquished a lot of my coaching responsibilities this year, and in doing so I’ve really been able to see the “bigger picture” and have been much more aware of what’s going on in the sports landscape. Going back through Joe Ehrmann’s transformative book, InsideOut Coaching, has also stoked a lot of questioning and understanding.
In sports, we are quick to toot the horns about how it builds character and strengthens our young people.
As I take a step back, I’m seeing a lot of hypocrisy and conflicting messages. We want sports to build character, but instead I’m seeing very little character building and a wake of destructive behavior.
Some local youth football seasons started this weekend so I saw a lot of posts and pictures pop up on my news feed. An exciting time for a lot of these 5th and 6th grade kiddos - and their parents. But, here’s what I saw: pictures of the scoreboard, posts about how many touchdowns or yards little Johnny had, and parents looking to validate their own worth through the results of their youngsters.
Is that character building?
I love sports, and I love football: it's helped me in my own life and now I coach the game for a living. I’m a competitive person. But I think sports should be a vehicle we use to build the future leaders of this world for the better. It’s not about winning games for those kids, but rather who they become in the process. I wish I would have seen these posts this weekend:
Johnny was such a great teammate today
Johnny was so coach-able today
Johnny really was respectful to the officials and the other team
Johnny bounced back and responded well to adversity today
Johnny was a leader out on the field today
This is not about being soft or handing out participation trophies. If you polled any of my former players, I don’t think any of them would say that I wasn’t demanding. I am. But it’s my hope that every single one of those boys would say that they knew that I was much more concerned with who they were off the field more-so than who the scoreboard says they are.
Too many of our kids are on a volatile roller coaster ride that sees their value directly correlated with how well they perform. This is not the case - and we need more people spreading the message.