There has been a big Internet controversy over when an audio tape is played whether you hear “Yanny” or “Laurel.” Siri tells me that she hears Yanny, but that only half of us will believe her! How is this like the Code? We think this is a fun illustration of something important: even when we are all in the same room at the same time, we may not “hear” the same thing. Miscommunication occurs often! As a preacher once said, usually people hear what they want to hear, sometimes they hear what they don’t want to hear, and sometimes they hear what I said! The Code says, “I will be a positive influence on the relationships on the team.” An important role can be to be sure that everyone hears the same thing, so that everyone can be on the same page. When was the last time you can remember that a miscommunication or misunderstanding led to a problem?
Robinson Cano, the second baseman of the Seattle Mariners, has been suspended for 80 games for taking illegal drugs. So, he now becomes another name in the list of “cheaters.” He not only has lost his reputation but probably his likely inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Voters don’t like cheaters. Some commentators have wondered how a veteran like Cano could be so foolish; others have said they weren’t surprised as they have seen how his body has changed over the years. Some think he should be banned from baseball. The Code says “I will compete within the spirit and letter of the rules of my sport.” What do you think the punishment should be for those who violate drug policy in your school or college for the first offense? Second? What about professional athletes?
A volcano is causing disruption and destruction in Hawaii. People have known that some sort of eruption would come, but not when or where. It’s like that in sports – eruptions can come, and we know they will, but we never know when or where. This is why the “mental” part of sports is so important. Just as we train our bodies and work on our plays and strategies, we also must develop our minds. It’s important to think about possible eruptions and to ask ourselves, “how should I react? What should I say or do?” It’s good to remember Kipling’s words: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…” I hope we all want to be that kind of person. The Code reminds us that we are all “role models” and that we need to provide a “positive influence.” So, what have been some “eruptions” that you have seen? How were they handled? What did you learn from them?
Barbara Bush died last week after a long and good life. Everyone seemed to agree that she was the “captain” of the family team, the chief motivator, and the “enforcer.” How do you think that she reflected the tenets of the Code? What are the values that she represented that you most admire? What is one positive trait of hers that you would like to work on yourself?
Let’s be clear: fighting is childish. It means you have lost control of your emotions, which is what happens to children, not adults. Fighting is childish: it means you believe that violence is the proper solution to a problem. Fighting is childish: it means you believe that it makes you “a tough person.” All of the reasons that result in fighting and “bench clearing brawls” are the result of one form of childish behavior or another. Can anyone imagine Mia Hamm, that diminutive soccer great, ever resorting to violence because of some way in which she was wronged? Fighting does not make anyone “respect” you any more than before; fighting does not make anyone “tougher” than before; fighting is what it is: childish and immature behavior. The preamble to the Code begins, “Because I am a role model…” Who are the role models you most admire? Do you agree with these thoughts?
Phil Coyne has been an usher for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 81 years. And now, at age 99, he has decided to retire. Last year on his birthday the Pirates gave him a special numbered uniform – 99! He’ll turn 100 in a couple weeks, and except for the need for a cane, he’s as sharp and as enthusiastic as he was for his first game. Needless to say, he is known by the fans and he knows them. When the Pirates were at Three Rivers stadium he had to take three buses to get there. What does the Code have to say about this? The tenets of the Code have to do with effort, loyalty, commitment, being a part of a team, being a positive influence on those around you and being a positive role model. These are the things we can all do, no matter what our job or position is. We may not live to be 99, but what can we learn from Phil? Who are the men and women in your school, neighborhood, or community who are the “glue” that make a difference?
“I will give of my time, skills, and money as I am able for the betterment of my community and world.” – the last tenet of the Code.
“What would you do?” … if you broke a window and no one saw, or if you told someone you would help him or her, but then had an opportunity to do something that was more fun – would you still help? Here’s a true story that just happened: an Italian soccer player, David Astori, was all set to sign a new contract, but it snowed, and so everyone agreed they would sign it a few days later. But, before that day came, he died of a heart attack. The owner said that he would honor the new contract – even though it was never signed – and give the money to his wife and child. Would you have done that? The Code says, “I will compete within the spirit and letter of the rules of my sport.” The owner did not have to pay any money, that’s the “letter of the law,” but he did anyway, that’s the “spirit” of what he intended. The “spirit” is a higher standard. What are other examples where we are tempted to “get away with something?”
One of those stories that is worth repeating is what was done by Iowa basketball guard Jordan Bohannon, who missed a free throw on purpose against Midwestern so that he would remain tied with the late Chris Street for the longest streak of free throws made in school history: 34. Street died in a car accident in 1993, only three days after setting the record. Rather than break the record, Jordan chose to share the record with someone who died before he (Jordan) was born. What would you have done? Why did he make that choice? In the “madness” of the coming month, look for more examples of Winning More Than The Game!
It has always been considered poor sportsmanship to “run up the score” against a clearly inferior opponent, or to add on unnecessary points against an opponent at the end of a game when the outcome is already determined. The recent high school basketball game in which one team beat the other by 86 points brought this issue into the news again. The Superintendent of Schools of the winning team apologized immediately and said that was not part of the philosophy of their sports program (this was a first round playoff game, so the opponent was from another district). One problem the winning school had was they only had eight players, so some starters had to remain in the game. But what do you think should have happened? For example, the winning team could have stopped trying to score – and just run out the clock. Or, the losing team’s coach could have decided to forfeit the game. We think either of those choices would have been better than what did happen. What do you think?