At the Grammy Awards on Sunday night Adele won every major award: Song of the Year, Record of Year and finally Album of the Year. However, she stunned everyone when she came to receive her final Grammy and said (looking at Beyoncé), “I can’t possibly accept this award. The Lemonade album was just so monumental, Beyoncé. It was so monumental and well thought-out and beautiful and soul-baring… we appreciate that. All of us artists here adore you. You are our light.” What does the Code say about this? The Code says, “I will display caring and honorable behavior off the field…” In all competition we want to win, but how we conduct ourselves whether we win or lose is a measure of our inner character. It is certainly true that Adele wanted to win, but in winning she had the honesty and the integrity to say the words above first, rather than celebrate and thank those who helped her achieve her success. When are the times when you have seen people most gracious in victory? Are there other occasions of victory or loss where the behavior has been less gracious?
So, why did the Patriots win? Was it: 1. Because Tom Brady is a great quarterback who led his team to victory? 2. Because Matt Ryan, this year’s MVP, was only able to lead the offense to three points in the second half? 3. Because the Patriots’ defense shut down the Falcons’ offense in the second half? 4. Because the Falcons’ defense was unable to stop the Patriots in the second half? While one can argue all are true, if you had to pick one reason, what would it be? What does the Code say about all of this? The Code talks about giving your best effort, about playing by the rules, and about putting team goals first… were any of these tenets critically important? Finally, what is the most important lesson that you learn from this game?
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the two greatest tennis players of this period of history, played an epic five set final in the Australian Open, with Federer winning his 18th Major Championship against his greatest nemesis.
What the world saw was not only two great champions making the supreme effort, but two gentlemen, athletes who know and respect – and like – each other. What the world did not see were two men with attitudes, trash talking, cursing, complaining about calls, etc. How is it that so many great players can play the game (not just tennis, all sports), without the need to strut, taunt, and celebrate at any occasion?
What does the Code say? “I will respect the dignity of every person and will not be abusive or dehumanizing of another either as an athlete or as a fan.” How well do you and your teammates live out this ethic? How do you respond when others taunt you or call you names?
We hope all coaches care more about their players as people than they do as athletic performers, and would like to be remembered by their players as Tim Tebow remembers his high school coach who died last week: “More than a coach, he was a mentor and a father figure. He changed my life and I will miss him.” Tim says he was “more than a coach.” The Code says, “I will display caring and honorable behavior …” We think the key word is “caring.” It applies not just to coaches, but to all of us. How can we communicate that we care about another? Would others say you are a caring person? Do you care more about others than you demonstrate? What are some steps you can take to reflect to others that you care about them? How would you like to be remembered?
Dabo Swinney is the head football coach of the National Champion Clemson Tigers. Prior to the championship game last week he said to his players, “Let the light that’s in you shine brighter than the light that’s on you.” What does that mean to you? Who is he talking to? Is the “you” each individual member of the team, or is it the team as a whole? We think his words could apply to each person individually and to the team as a whole. First, it means that while the national spotlight will be on us, it’s more important for us to control the light, to be the light, rather than to bask in the spotlight. So, we must focus on playing the game, on doing our part, and not be distracted by the spectacle around us. It means “let’s do our best!” Let’s be sure that our ability, unity, teamwork and determination are what is seen, rather than ourselves as the objects of entertainment. Whether on the field or off, whenever we focus the efforts we wish to make for something greater than our own glory, we will shine in ways more important than points on a scoreboard. When we strive to be the light, to make a difference, we’ll always be “winning more than the game.”
Clemson fans are celebrating Deshaun Watson’s stellar performance as the quarterback of the National Champion Tigers. The only thing that is as important in Deshaun’s opinion is the work that he does for Habitat for Humanity. As a child he grew up in public housing surrounded by crime and drugs, but when his mother Deann learned that through community service and hard work she could qualify for a Habitat House, she signed up. After giving over 300 hours of volunteer service she earned the privilege of a house. When the day came for the ceremony to receive the key, they were all surprised to find out that NFL great Warrick Dunn’s foundation had provided the funds for furniture and food to get them going. Deshaun and his siblings grew up in that Habitat house, giving him a new neighborhood and a better opportunity. He says, “that house became our home, and gave hope to us all.” Before his name was a household word he was already leading the team in volunteer days. Additionally, he told the Habitat leadership that he would like to speak to all the Habitat young people about taking advantage of the opportunities before them, and avoiding the bad choices that are all around: 300 people showed up the first time! Deshaun has become the face and a major advocate for Habitat in the Greenville/Clemson area of South Carolina. Winning More Than The Game! What can you learn from him? How/what difference can you make?
In case you haven’t heard, Mariah Carey’s live television appearance on New Year’s Eve fell completely apart because her earpiece apparently didn’t work. Interestingly, we read by chance that one of Prince Harry’s favorite quotes is from Stevie Wonder: “It takes teamwork to make the dream work.” Whether we’re on a musical team, a sports team, or a family team, it takes teamwork to make the dream work. There are two sides to this coin: first, we have to “develop our skills to the best of our ability” – we have to do our part – but the other side is that we can’t succeed on our own. We are always dependent on others. Those who think otherwise are doomed to failure. You’d think Prince Harry could get pretty much anything done he’d want to – but he knows differently. So we are all players and teammates – players trying to do the best we can to do our part, and teammates, trying to help each other in any way we can. What do you need to do more of to make the dream work?
There is nothing more important than setting goals for ourselves. John Wooden said, “Nothing will work unless you do.” Most of us do not take goal setting seriously enough. We say “I would like to be the best…” Having a goal is easy! But how do we get there? To set a goal is to look at the big picture – but to get there requires lots of little pictures. What will you do each day? How much time will you spend doing it? How will you know if you are improving? Will you keep working and trying even if progress is slow? No matter what sport we play, or what class we are taking in school, success will come from having a detailed plan for getting to our goal. My father always said, “If you want to succeed spend five minutes more every day after you think you’re finished.” The Code says, “I will develop my skills to the best of my ability…” Many of us set new goals on New Year’s. Will you work out a plan in detail for how you will achieve the next goal you set for yourself? Nothing will work unless you do.
Christian McCaffrey has announced he is dropping off the Stanford football team so he can prepare for the NFL draft. What does the Code say about this? “I will place team goals ahead of personal goals.” This is not the first time a football player has quit the team, in order to prepare for the NFL combine. We all know the argument: if he quits now, he may be able to increase his value, and also, he does not risk an injury that could be serious and possibly even end his career. But does self-interest trump commitment to the team? We think that when you commit to playing on a team, you commit to playing on a team. Let us expand the subject: should a person work to improve his or her statistics as a high school player at the expense of the team in order to win an athletic scholarship? What do you think? Has this happened to you or your team?
What does the “holiday spirit” mean to you? For some it means family, for others a spirit of giving, for others a time of faith, for others still other things. For many people it is also a sad time, for it brings back past happy memories that are now gone; for those out of work or suffering financially it surely brings increased anxiety. What does the Code have to say about these days? The Code does not address these things directly, but it does call on us to be a positive influence on those around us, and to care about our community and world. We see Santa Claus everywhere! The main job that these “Santas” have is to listen – to listen to what the children are saying to them, and to encourage them to be good little boys and girls. We do not know what emotions are going on inside all those around us, but a good model for all of us might be that of Santa: listening with caring ears, encouraging those around us, and making a difference in the ways we can. How can you and your team be a Santa?