When he was in high school Luke Romick learned about the Thirst Project, which is an organization that digs wells in Third World countries, primarily in Africa. It inspired him – so much that he raised the money to go to Los Angeles after his first year of college and volunteer for the organization. He returned to his college, Denison, and started a student organization there to raise money and support the Thirst Project. He continued to build that organization throughout his college years and is now preparing to work for the organization. In your opinion, what are the most important needs in your community, your state, and the world? Is there any way that you can make a difference in these areas? What might be one thing you would like to do? Can you encourage others to join you? Remember the Code says, “I will give of my time, skills and money as I am able for the betterment of my community and world.”
Major League baseball recognizes the importance of Jackie Robinson’s life, example, and extraordinary courage in the struggle for racial equality each year. As he endured the jeers and insults of fans day after day, there was one afternoon in particular when some fans were taunting him in especially ugly terms. At a critical moment in the midst of it all, the Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese went over to Robinson and put his arm around him, sending a direct signal to everyone. It was a gesture that spoke volumes. Can you identify more with Jackie or Pee Wee? Or, are you in the stands heckling? The Code says, “I will respect the dignity of every person…” How does this apply to your life?
Tom Watson’s caddie Neil Oxman said he’d go on ahead up the 18th fairway at the Masters so that Watson could enjoy the ovation alone as he approached the green. “No way,” said Tom, “you’re walking up the last hole with me.” Earlier, as they came to the 13th tee, Tom had left an egg salad sandwich on the bench, a tribute to a former long-time caddie Bruce Edwards who had died 12 years earlier of ALS, and who always had an egg salad sandwich on that tee. Two caddies, two stories, and one Tom Watson. The Code says, “I will be a positive influence on the relationships on the team.” Even in the midst of competition, when all eyes were on him, it was the “team” that was most important to Tom, and his example is one from which we can all learn. Who are the members of your team that often go unrecognized? What opportunities do you have to recognize them?
We usually point out that “teams win team sports,” and this would have been true no matter which team won last night’s game. But, it was Villanova who seemed throughout the tournament to have found a rhythm as a team that made their tournament run special. Indeed, it is the teams who suddenly jell that create the unexpected “madness” of the tournament. But, beneath all of the external teamwork it is the spiritual teamwork that is the foundation of all teamwork. Marcus Paige put it best when he said after the game that the saddest moment for him was not going to be the loss, but the moment he took off his uniform, because that would be the last time he took off his UNC jersey. It was because of what “team” meant to him that this moment would be the hardest. What is the team that has meant the most to you? Why?
A popular movie right now is Batman v Superman. We’re not sure what happens in the movie, but apparently Batman thinks Superman has lost his way and sets out to defeat him. Then the plot thickens. We all grew up with various “Superheroes” as a part of our childhood, and we all had our favorites. If you were a Superhero, what is one “evil or bad thing” you would like to get rid of in your school or in your town? What power would you need to do that? Is it something that you could do if you had a group of friends helping you? Could you put together a team of your own superheroes and do it? The Code says, “I will develop my skills to the best of my ability” – and that includes your superpowers!
The NCAA basketball tournament – March Madness – always provides an abundance of surprises and stories. Everything from great plays to great mistakes are magnified and replayed for us. There is only one winner. But that, of course is not true. Sports and everyone who loves sports wins. We win when we see an athlete give his or her best, when a team gives a total effort to win or lose, when those who do win do so with the grace and style we hope for and expect. It’s hard to imagine our world without sports, isn’t it? College sports has many deficiencies, and much need of reform but the coming weeks, let’s all enjoy Winning More Than The Game. Ask your team to share the basketball stories that have inspired them and encouraged them in their lives.
Many young people have probably never heard of Nancy Reagan, who died this week. She was the wife of President Reagan (whom some young people also may not have heard of!). When he was the President Mrs. Reagan was liked by many people and also disliked by some. The people who disliked her were usually people who disagreed with the President. Since she has died, we have heard nearly everyone talking about what a wonderful person she was, how many things she worked for (including her “Just Say No!” anti-drug program), and what an asset she was to her husband, and to his “team.”
The Code says, “I will be a positive influence on the relationships on the team.”
Many of us have teammates who may not be our best friends, and it is easy for us to see the things we don’t like about them. But, how can we learn to see the good things they offer? to see the positive ways in which they can help us? and even the ways they can make us be better teammates and persons? It’s easy to find fault with someone, but it’s also possible to see past the things that we don’t like to find the things that we do like. How can you do that? How will it help your team?
There is a lot of name calling in both the Republican and Democrat races for the President. The problem with this, besides the fact that it shows both bad manners and a lack of respect for the person they are belittling, is that they are not being positive role models for others. After all, if someone running for President can say something bad, why can’t I? Let us be clear: there is a difference between saying that someone has ideas that are bad, and saying that that person is an idiot. We are all tempted to call other people names, to say things behind their backs that we would not say to their faces, and to do things that are less than our best selves. Remember the Code says: “ I will display caring and honorable behavior off the field and be a positive influence in my community and world.” What are some things you can do to help prevent yourself from saying things that reflect poorly on you? How can you be a positive influence when others are resorting to name calling?
At the Grammy awards when Taylor Swift won the Album of the Year award she made a speech in which she said that there are always people who’ll want to take credit for what you do, or who will try to undercut you along the way. Don’t let that distract you, or slow you down, from the goal you are pursuing, and when you achieve it, it will the greatest feeling in the world, she said. (Many people interpreted those comments as directed at Kanye West who had said (ridiculously) that he was the one who made her famous.) How is this like your experience as an athlete? Are there those who believe in you? Are there those who doubt you? Do those people influence your determination to achieve the goals you set for yourself? The Code says, “I will develop my skills to the best of my ability…” How can you be a positive influence on your teammates?
The Code says, “I will put team goals ahead of personal goals.” The real story of the Super Bowl was the Broncos defense. It’s important to remember that teams win team sports – individuals do not. Individuals may play well, and they must if the team is to win, but it is always true that teams win team sports. And, more often than not, it is the team with the better defense that wins. The glory, of course, tends to go to the best offensive players in all sports, but their winning is dependent on far more than their abilities. As individuals it is our task to “develop our skills to the best of our ability and to give our best effort in practice and in competition” but one of the most important skills is figuring out not how we can fulfill our potential as a player, but how we can fulfill our potential as a teammate. Ask the members of your team to think about their weaknesses as a team and how they can together work to overcome them. What can each person do to make the team stronger?