A coach/parent/friend of mine posed a question on Facebook a couple of days ago. He asked WHY a parent is so quick to approach a coach about the amount of playing time their child is or is not getting, but that same parent will not approach a teacher or the school to question why their child is failing their academic classes. Immediate responses call into question parents and the parents’ pride or need for their child to have perceivable value. Some parents are looking for their child to be the next “great” thing to come out of their town. While I agree wholeheartedly with these thoughts, I believe the reasoning may run deeper. Why do parents have those prideful needs? I believe it is a cultural problem. Our priorities in this country have become exceptionally skewed because we place too much emphasis on superstardom. We celebrate the stars not the TEAM!!
For instance just last night when the Green Bay Packers beat the Cowboys, the commentators said, “Aaron Rodgers moves on.” Last time I checked Aaron Rodgers is not the Green Bay Packers. He is only one player out of 11 on the field. Nothing against Aaron Rodgers, but it is the idea that our society places too much grandeur on individual players and bypasses the greatness of TEAM. My husband and I are constantly telling our boys that no one person wins or loses a game. That every player has a purpose even if that player doesn’t see the field or court during a game.
I LOVE sports, but I believe it is the team part of sports that teaches our children the greatest lessons. I LOVE winning, but I believe it is just as important to learn to lose with class and dignity by leaving it all on the court/field. I LOVE to be a starter, but I believe having to bust your ass in order make the starting five or 11 or nine teaches how hard work and diligence elevates you as a person. I LOVE to talk shit, but I believe the best talk is shown through your impeccable skills. I LOVE teamwork, and I believe it is imperative to teach our children that one of their greatest roles on a team is to build up the players around and under them. As a team member we should NEVER tear down a teammate if they make a mistake. Players need to understand that individual stats don’t matter!! If your TEAM loses, you lose.
Unfortunately, the problem of stardom and winning is not one that sits solely with players and parents. I have seen coaches, throughout my years, who rewarded kids based on speed and size rather than on attitude and commitment. I am not stupid and completely understand the importance of speed and size in sports, but when we reward kids based solely on their athletic ability and not on their work ethic, we, as coaches, are part of the problem. I can bet you that if a kid lacks work ethic on the court/field, he or she lacks work ethic in the classroom as well. If a kid has a bad attitude or lacks respect toward a coaching staff, that same kid will be a discipline problem on the field/court and give teachers problems in the classroom and more than likely will not be a productive member of society in the long run.
I try my hardest to instill within my own children (not always successful mind you) that those athletes, who work hard at school work, learn how to critically think, and make good grades, are the best athletes. I tell my kids that at some point your size and speed will be a moot point if you don’t understand how to run a play or how to read the defense in order to know which play to run. Great players are SMART players!!
Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” I urge you all to challenge the young people under your influence to seek out knowledge. Help them see the importance of words and people. Words make up sentences which create paragraphs that give us books of wisdom. Wisdom which grows our minds into organs of understanding giving us the ability to think, create, and love. Help these young people understand that the people who surround us provide us with the foundation to mold ourselves into a generous community. A community capable of unlimited success. We need each other to be great. No one achieves greatness alone.
My goal as a mother, teacher, and coach is to always help children see they have what it takes to be successful, but they first need to understand success is not defined by wins or loses. Success is determined by how you conducted yourself during the game. How will you play the game of life?
Here's how I want to play: Love God. Love Others. Live Enthusiastically. Work Hard. Have Fun.