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 this weekend, let all enjoy Winning More Than The Game. Ask your team to share the stories that have inspired them and encouraged them in their lives.
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?”
ATLANTA (January 14, 2014) – The 10th Annual Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, an award given for the most outstanding role model among athletes, announced its nominees for the 2014 award ceremony according to Fred Northup, President, Athletes for a Better World.
The professional recipient will be Drew Brees, the 2009 Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. A native of Austin, TX, Brees attended Westlake High School and led his football team to a perfect 16-0 record and the 5A State Championship while garnering 5A Offensive Player of the Year honors. He attended Purdue University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management from the prestigious Krannert School of Management. A two-time Heisman finalist, Brees led the Boilermakers to a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl appearance during the 2000 season. In that same year he won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top collegiate player as well as being named Academic All-American Player of the Year and was a recipient of the National Football Foundation’s post-graduate scholarship. He still holds virtually all of the passing records in the Big Ten. In his professional career he has been elected to seven Pro Bowls while being named 2004 Comeback player of the Year, 2006 All-Pro Team, 2006 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, 2008 and 2011 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and Super Bowl XLIV Champion and MVP.
As much pride as Brees takes in his on field performance, he takes even more pride in his community service endeavors. Drew and his wife, Brittany, established the Brees Dream Foundation in 2003 and since then have contributed and/or committed over $17,000,000 to help improve the quality of life for cancer patients and provide care, education and opportunities for children and families in need.
In New Orleans, he has become “an athlete as adored and appreciated as any in an American city today.”When Sports Illustrated selected him for the 2010 Sportsman of the Year award, it was in large part for his leadership in helping lead the city of New Orleans’ rebirth after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. As a part of that effort his Foundation worked to help rebuild and restore and recreate academic and athletic facilities, parks and playgrounds, after-school programs, mentoring programs for the intellectually disabled, neighborhood revitalization projects and child care facilities in New Orleans. In addition Drew sponsors the Rebuilding thru Brotherhood program to invite fellow Sigma Chi members to the New Orleans community to build homes with the Habitat for Humanity.
Drew lives with his wife Brittany and sons Baylen, Bowen and Callen in New Orleans.
John Wooden , who won ten national championships during the years 1964–1975 as basketball coach at UCLA is regarded as the greatest college coach of any sport who ever lived. He is universally regarded as one of the finest human beings to ever grace the world of sports, and his character, conduct and selfless gifts stand at the highest level by any standard. When Coach Wooden learned about Athletes for a Better World, he gave authorization to attach his name to this annual award and he attended and addressed the inaugural event in Los Angeles in 2005. In his honor, the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup is presented to two distinguished athletes, one collegiate and one professional, for their character and leadership both on and off the field and for their contributions to sport and society.
The Wooden Cup is given to a collegiate and a professional athlete who have made the greatest positive influence in the lives of others. The award recipients will be announced at a ceremony held at the Atlanta History Center on April 23rd.
With Jack Nicklaus, Pat Summitt, Dikembe Mutombo, Mia Hamm, Peyton Manning, John Smoltz, John Lynch, Andrea Yaeger and Cal Ripken, Jr. as previous recipients, the Wooden Cup is becoming one of the most prestigious awards in all of sports. Recipients are considered role models and athletes of excellence both on and off the field.
Founded by Athletes for a Better World (ABW), a non-profit organization committed to changing the culture of American sports, the Wooden Cup is unique in that it is open to athletes in all collegiate and professional sports. Nominations are open to every division and conference in college sports.
The 2014 Collegiate Wooden Cup recipient will be announced at the award ceremony April 22. Finalists for the collegiate division include:
- Aaron Craft, Ohio State University, Basketball
- Kelly Dennis, Chestnut Hill College, Tennis
- Dau Jok, University of Pennsylvania, Basketball
- Jeffrey Reppucci, Holy Cross, Hockey
- Elizabeth Tucker, Notre Dame, Soccer
Recipients of the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup are chosen by a committee chaired by Vincent Dooley, former University of Georgia athletic director, and other distinguished individuals involved in athletics across the country.
About Athletes for a Better World:
Founded in 1998, Athletes for a Better World (ABW) exists to change the culture of sport by developing individual character, teamwork, and civic responsibility through commitment to the Code for Living. ABW’s vision is to have the Code become a part of every sport at every level, so that it becomes the common language and standard expectation of behavior for everyone. ABW provides free support and resources to coaches and athletes across the country who want to teach and live out these values. “The Code for Living” can be found on playing fields, locker rooms and athletic facilities across the country. Currently, ABW players and coaches are represented in every state and several foreign countries.
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.