The idea was born at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. After spending millions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, how about “Giving Tuesday” in which instead of spending on ourselves, we would give money to our favorite charities? A great idea, and one which has exploded in two years into the national consciousness. It is only a symbolic day, of course. We shop all the other days of the year, just as we should be thankful for our lives every day and not just on Thanksgiving. But symbols are important, and can lead to habits. Aristotle said that we become what we do and repeat: in sports we become better by practicing, and in life we become more generous by being generous. “I will give of my time, skills, and money as I am able for the betterment of my community and world.”
Mark Messier, a hockey Hall of Famer who captained the New York Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup title has joined with Olympic figure skating champion Sarah Hughes to create and develop the Kingsbridge National Ice Center in the Bronx, NY. The center which will feature nine year-round indoor rinks is being created in an abandoned Armory a few miles north of Manhatten, not far from Yankee Stadium. Free educational programs and sports programs for kids are central to the undertaking as Messier and Hughes work to have an impact on one of New York’s poorer areas. Messier, who is the CEO of the entire project is anxious to give back to the city. What makes it special is not just the investment that Messier and Hughes are making, but the commitment to make a difference in the lives of young people. They are a great example of “giving of my time, skills, and money as I am able for the betterment of my community and world.” On Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful for all the athletes who are making a difference!
It is hard to imagine the force of Typhoon Haiyan, except to know that it was about twice as powerful as Katrina. The images from the Philippines and those from the Midwest’s tornadoes show total destruction. It is hard to imagine the sense of loss of those who survived. It is easier for us to go about our lives. What does the Code say? “I will give of my time, skills and money as I am able for the betterment of my community and world.” We cannot solve all of the world’s problems, but we do have a responsibility to act “as I am able.” What are you able to do? What is your team or your school able to do? Who will show the leadership?
Incognito means “not known” – but everyone now knows Ritchie Incognito’s hate filled messages to teammate Jonathan Martin. The Code says, “I will respect the dignity of every human being and will not be abusive or dehumanizing of another…” The simple truth is that we all know we are to respect others – so why does this happen? Is it insecurity, meanness, or something else? When and why are you tempted to resort to name calling? Every person hears things said to which they should object, but more often than not we are silent. To find the courage to do the right thing it is usually helpful to think about it ahead of time and to have a strategy such as: “if I hear this…. then I will say this…” Do you have such a strategy?
Bree McMahon is the college soccer player who lost one leg and almost another in a freak accident at a fundraising event in high school. Despite her injury, Brevard College decided to honor her scholarship, assuming she’d never play. Bree has astounded everyone with her work ethic and is now playing goalie on the college team. She is an incredible example of determination and work ethic. Just as importantly, she is a positive influence on her team. The Code says, “I will be a positive influence on the other relationships on the team.” What sort of example does your behavior set for the others on your team? It’s not about Bree – she’s a great example; it’s about you! How are you doing?
Members of the Ole Miss football team disrupted a play this past week by laughing at the actors and cat-calling inappropriate remarks and slurs as the play went on. The play, entitled The Laramie Project, deals with the story of a gay man, Matthew Shephard, who was murdered in Wyoming. Many people around the country would not be surprised that this happened at Ole Miss, which has a heritage of racism and narrow minded thinking. That is too bad, because while it did happen at Ole Miss, it could have happened anywhere. The larger issue is not that there were a few people who misbehaved, it is that there were not others who stood up to the behavior. The Code says, “I will respect the dignity of every human being, and will not be abusive or dehumanizing of another…” On many occasions the best way to “respect the dignity” of others is to stand publicly with them against those who do not. How does this situation apply to you, your team, your school?
Matt Labrum, the head football coach at Union High in Roosevelt, Utah, suspended the whole team. He did it because of the lack of discipline on the field, the poor behavior by his players off the field and in the classroom, and the failure of leadership expected of his captains. The players are in the process of trying to earn their way back on the team by doing community service, examining their own shortcomings, and developing their character. Each week in this Tip we focus on some incident, apply it to the Code, and ask ourselves what lesson we can learn from it. This week asks us a bigger question: is our team – as a whole – moving in the right direction? Are we individually and collectively becoming better as individuals and as a team, both on and off the field? How are the captains doing? Is there a weak link that I should call attention to? What is my responsibility and am I living up to it?
France is in the headlines because the Senate there passed a bill forbidding beauty pageants for girls under 16. Does the Code have anything to say about this? What is this issue all about? ”We are talking about children who are only being judged on their appearance, and that is totally contrary to the development of a child,” the French amendment’s author, Chantal Jouanno, told The Associated Press. We are reminded by this headline of the unhealthy pressure that many parents (and coaches) put on young people in sports participation. It is a well-known fact that there are more kids who drop out of competitive sports than continue because it is “not fun.” The Code says that “I will respect the dignity of every person…” One way that we can respect the dignity of our athletes is to remember how old they are and to work with them, coach them, and help them grow in ways that are positive for their overall development. Does this have any relevance for your team? Your school or community?
Most football fans are eagerly awaiting the Alabama-Texas A&M game. Every year there are “big” games in every sport. What does the Code say about these big games? The Code, of course, does not address this topic directly, but many of the tenets address the context in which we either play or watch these games. If we’re athletes we want to do our best, give our best effort, play by the rules, and conduct ourselves in a way that reflects positively on our team (and ourselves!). As fans we want to be positive role models and win or lose with grace. More than anything it is important to remember that it is just a game, and that there will be another one next week, and another “big” one somewhere down the road. It’s good to be thankful that we have sports in our lives, that these teams get to compete, bring drama and fun to our lives, and know the many ways in which we all “win more than the game.”
Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida this past week, as everyone knows! At age 64, it is amazing that she achieved something that no one has ever been able to do. It is even more amazing that this is a goal she had set for herself over 35 years ago. What does the Code say about this? The Code says, “I will give my best effort…” We normally think of our “best” effort in terms of a day, a week, or a season. What is the longest that you have consistently worked on something in your life? Do you have life goals? What can you learn from Diana Nyad?