There is a national story this week about the little boy who was bullied because he had a “Little Pony” bookbag. Since then, it has also come out that another little boy attempted to commit suicide because he too was bullied for the same thing.
There is a lot of good natured “trash talking” and “teasing” that goes on all the time. But there is also a fine line between good natured conversation and that which is hurtful. And the truth is that we do not always know where that line is. Discuss with your team how we can know when we are being supportive and when we have crossed that line, whether accidentally on or purpose. What then can we do?
The Code says “…I will take responsibility when I fail to live up to this Code…” Is it your responsibility to act when you know someone has been hurt – but not by you? How do you do that? Do you speak to the victim or to the one who spoke? Or both?
“I will respect the dignity of every human being… I will be a positive influence…” How do you find the courage to live out this Code?
Everyone is deeply worried about the disappearance of the airplane in the Pacific. What does the Code have to say about a situation like this? One could answer this in several ways – it is a team effort in trying to locate the plane, and everyone is doing his or her best. We, however, are thinking of the tenet in the Code that says, “I will be a positive influence on the relationships on my team.” This is so important in any critical time. We probably have no connection to this airline disaster, but we all have friends and family who face tragedies of one sort of another. It is always tempting to turn inward, and to avoid the situation. We feel inadequate and unsure of what to say, or how to be supportive. But just “being there” for our friends is always adequate, and even better is to bring a meal, pick up someone, or run an errand. What can you do to prepare yourself for such a situation?
Victor Dubuisson is one of the young rising golf stars, a Frenchman who is now ranked 23rd in the world. His father was a professional basketball player, but he says that it was watching Tiger Woods win the 1997 Masters Championship that inspired him – before his seventh birthday – to take up golf.
Ask your team or your teammates: when you think back in your life, who were the people who inspired you to take up a sport, or to want to become the best you could be in that sport? Was it a family member, a teammate or friend, or someone you watched on TV like young Victor Dubuisson?
We are all role models for others, almost always in ways in which we are as unaware of as Tiger was when he played in Augusta and was watched by a young man in Cannes. As the Code says, we do “have the opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in the lives of others.” Are you taking advantage of that opportunity? Remember: you are a role model and you will probably never know the ways you influence others.
Shaun White, Bode Miller, the hockey team, the ice skater who fell down and then got up and finished the program – you add your favorite story — each day there is another wonderful story about courage, persistence, victory, disappointment and defeat. Along with countless athletes we’ve never heard of who have trained for years in sports we can’t play or really understand – if we’ve even heard of them ! Take a few minutes and ask your team: How would you describe the spirit of what you have seen? In what ways is it similar to the world of sport you know? In what ways is it different? What can you learn from these games that can make you a better person? Are these Olympics an example of “Winning More Than The Game?”
Those watching the Olympics are seeing many stories of what it is to be a part of a team, and to compete not for yourself but for your team and country. Even though most of the events are individual events, in which teammates compete against each other as well as against other countries, the beauty of seeing everyone rooting for everyone else is striking.
The Olympic Creed reads: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
Do you believe that? Why do we play sports, anyway? We play them because they are fun – because they give us an opportunity to develop our skills, to play with others and to compete against others. When we compete we get to test our skills against an opponent, and to learn from that experience. We learn many things along the way about discipline, teamwork, success and failure. We learn to accept our weaknesses and to know our strengths.
How does the Code and the ABW motto “Winning More Than The Game” reflect the goals of the Olympic Creed? Which of the tenets of the Code are most important to you?
Russell Wilson said his Dad asked him many times growing up, “why not you?” That was the basis for his question and challenge to his teammates at the beginning of the season, “why not us?” Those who did not know Wilson before Sunday had to be pleased to see a second year quarterback talking about “us” and not “me,” being appreciative of the his coaches and the fans, everyone except himself. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning was reportedly staying late, signing autographs, bitterly disappointed in the result, but nevertheless thinking of others. No matter which team you rooted for, we all can agree that both of these men represent the best in sports, and ask ourselves, “how can I be more like them?”
Richard Sherman’s trash-talking rant after the Seahawks game brings this form of communication back into the news. Trash talking is not new. The man who called himself “The Greatest” before others did (Ali), also made an art-form of trash-talking fifty years ago. He did it in long humorous poems that he recited before his matches, and he did it in rants and sound bites (“Sonny Liston is too ugly to be the Champion. Look at me, I’m beautiful.”). What’s the difference between friendly banter and inappropriate trash talking? The Code says “I will respect the dignity of every human being…” A simple test is whether a person is trying to make him or herself better by putting someone else down. It is never appropriate to exalt ourselves by putting others down. A wonderful example was set by Serena Williams in her loss in the Australian Open. Her trainer immediately said she was suffering from a bad back. Serena, however, said she was disappointed that she had not played better, but that it was not her back – “give her credit,” she said of her opponent, “she played well.” Perhaps, someday, Richard Sherman will have learned that rather than say, “a mediocre receiver will always get beat by a great corner back,” people would have greater admiration for him if he had said, “Crabtree is a great receiver; I’m just glad that I was able to make the play that won the game.” In his senior years, even Ali has mellowed and matured.
The NFL playoffs have featured bitter cold, torrential rain, and wind. The Australian Open (tennis) has had several days with the temperature well over 100 degrees, conditions called “inhumane.” The question this week is: how do we deal with adversity? There is nothing more true than the fact that we all will face adversity – in sports and in life – and how we face it, and deal with it, will determine the outcome of our lives. The Code says, “I will give my best effort…” How easy it is to say that! Determination and the will to persevere are only the result of habits that we must cultivate day in and day out. We must look for small obstacles to overcome so that we can build up that “mental toughness” that is easy to talk about, but only comes as the result of daily challenges met. Remember the words of Winston Churchill in the darkest days of World War II, when he described what lay ahead, and the daily challenges he assumed they would face and would have to overcome: “…we will fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight…in the air, …we shall defend our island whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, ..on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…” What does adversity look like to you today? What are the daily small steps you can take to overcome it?
Baseball honors three great players with election to the Hall of Fame. The truth is also that they honored baseball by their presence. They honored the game, the fans, and their opponents by the way they played the game and by the way they have conducted their lives off the field. In reviewing the Code for Living, which tenets do you think best exemplify these men? What is it about each of these men that you most admire? Which of these traits would you like to make more a part of your life?