The scandal of the week has to do with wealthy parents paying large sums of money to a man who had various ways of being sure that their children would get into the college they wanted. We’re not sure exactly what laws were broken, but those involved could end up spending time in jail. There are many lessons that can be learned from this sad story, and we encourage you to discuss this with your team. The Code says, “I will compete within the spirit and letter of the rules of my sport.” There is always a temptation to break a rule, to try to get away with a “minor” violation of the rules. Many times we can do it and get away with it. But, at a critical time, the whistle may blow, and we are caught, and the consequences may be dire. This can happen in a game, or it can happen in thousands of ways throughout our lives. Learning to play by the rules is an important lesson to learn. How can you pay more attention to the rules in your sport, in your school, classroom, and in the world?
We recently read an article in a local paper that talked about “more than the game” and we wondered if they knew about ABW. The article listed all the ways in which local teams and schools were giving back to their communities. The volleyball team at one school was doing one thing, the lacrosse team at another was doing something else, and so on. The Code says, “I will give of my time, skills and money as I am able for the betterment of my community and world.” We think all teams should have at least one day of service each season – paint the bleachers, feed the homeless, do whatever the team would like to do. It’s a great way to build team spirit, to get to know others, and to make a difference. Even better are when more than one team joins together to make a difference. Where is your team in all of this? Is this a good time to start? It’s all about “winning more than the game.”
Learning how to win, how to lose, and how to learn from both experiences is one of the most valuable things in sports. On this subject the presentation of the Oscars on Sunday night provided some words to ponder. Talk about each of the following four quotes: what do they mean to you?
“If you are you’re sitting on your couch, and you are watching this right now, all I have to say is that this is hard work,” Gaga admitted in the midst of tears. “I’ve worked hard for a long time. It’s not about winning. What it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it … It’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up, it’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.” Lady Gaga (in winning her first Oscar).
“I thought I was courtside at the [Madison Square] Garden. The ref made a bad call.” Spike Lee (after losing for Best Picture. He won another Oscar.).
“If I, in my heart and soul, feel that I’ve fulfilled the challenges of a certain character, that’s where I find my personal fulfillment. I don’t feel like I need to be validated by some award, even though in the nature of our business, it does mean something.” Glenn Close (who has set the record for actresses for most nominations without a win – seven).
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” John Wooden (who never talked about winning, only about doing one’s best).
You can spend your life contemplating these four quotations – because most of us could say all of those things! How do you relate them to the Code?
The students at the University of Indiana embarrassed themselves and their university by chanting obscenities at the Purdue basketball team. The Code is clear: “I will respect the dignity of every human being and will not be abusive or dehumanizing of anyone either as an athlete or as a fan.” We all should learn as children not to call other people names – but some people never grow up. Where did these students get the idea that their behavior was acceptable? Was it because a friend was doing it? Or was it because lots of others were doing it? Did the person know what he or she was doing was inappropriate? All of this is an example of “mob rule” – where people will act in a crowd differently than they would ever act alone. When have you been in a similar situation when a person was being teased or taunted? The important question is whether you would participate, have the courage to be silent, or have the greater courage to try to silence those around you. What would you do?
Last week several people wrote us about a story. Here’s one of the emails:
I recommend you look at the piece on CBS Sunday Morning from this past Sunday about a young high school wrestler. His opponent was seriously injured in the closing moments of his match. He chose to remain motionless on the mat when the match was restarted-his opponent could not use one of his arms-all the young man had to do was stand up and he would have won the match…instead he stayed flat on the mat allowing his injured opponent to win. When it became apparent what was happening the crowd began to applaud-then they stood and applauded-even the referee began to applaud.
After the match the loser (who really won in everyone’s minds) said “It just wouldn’t have been fair to take advantage of his injury-it wasn’t his fault). That is the true definition of sportsmanship and adherence to “The Code”.
The only reason we compete is to try with all of our effort to win. However, we like to remind our players that we “win” by
- getting to play on a team
- working hard and seeing improvement
- making the team better by our efforts in practice
- getting to be a part of a team and learning to work together
- being a support in many ways to our teammates
- competing in a way that brings respect and honor to our team
Winning is always the goal in any competition, but regardless of the score we can always win more than the game.
We’ve talked about this before: in sports bad calls are a part of the game. No one likes to see it, but in football, for example, there are many missed calls – holding by linemen, illegal blocks, etc. Still, no one likes to see a missed call cost a team the game, which is what happened in New Orleans on Sunday. In tennis, when there is an obvious missed call, it is not uncommon for the player who benefited to deliberately lose the next point to make things fair. What if the Rams coach had thought, “wow, that should have been a first down for them. I am going to have my players go deliberately off sides, so that the Saints can get a first down.” (twice if necessary, not sure of yardage necessary). Would you do that? Would that be the right thing to do? Or, do we just accept that there are such things as bad bounces and bad calls? What do we mean by “the spirit and the letter” of the rule? Does that matter here?
The Kansas City Chiefs lineman Jeff Allen was stuck in the snow on his way to the playoff game. Fortunately, in case you haven’t read this story, a homeless man named Dave was ready to help him, and was able to get Jeff out of his trouble and on his way to the game. Dave had no idea who Jeff was, but Jeff wanted to thank him and so after the game he used social media to find Dave and to invite him to this week’s championship game. It’s a feel good story – but it also reminds us that we have opportunities all the time to give a helping hand to someone not expecting it. We should not just feel good about Dave (who’s still homeless), or Jeff for responding, but should instead use this as a model for ourselves. Here’s a challenge: see if you can find one opportunity to do something unexpected – a random act of kindness – once a day for a week. The Code says that, “I will give of my time, skills, and money as I am able for the betterment of my community and world.”
We were happy to learn that the team that won the college football championship, Clemson, also had the highest graduation rate among the final four schools, with a team graduation rate of 87%. The Code for Living has that name because it has values that apply to all of life. “I will develop my skills to the best of my ability…” applies to the classroom as well as the athletic field. Just as we work on individual skills in sports, so we also have to focus on particular subjects when they need improvement. Recently, we talked about setting goals. These should include academic goals and social goals too. One of the biggest traps athletes fall into is in becoming over-committed. If we are over-committed then we cannot give our best effort. As a part of the new year, what are some of the academic goals you need to set for yourself? Are there some extra things you should drop from your schedule?
It’s always fun to try to start the New Year with some resolutions, but we all know most of them are broken very soon after they are made. Can we do better? The Code says “I will develop my skills to the best of my ability…” This year we would like to make some suggestions. First, decide honestly what you would like to work on – and it doesn’t have to be skill development; it can be the way you act, or one aspect of the kind of character you’re developing. Secondly, decide how much time you can easily spend on it each day; you want to choose a small amount so you can always be successful! Thirdly, decide how many days you are going to do this; why not try for only one week, or two – you can always re-up! When you’re ready, tell your plans to a special friend so that they will know and so they can encourage you – and also, because it will help you stay on track. It’s important that you pick a goal and then steps along the way that will be easy to achieve. Most people give up on their good intentions because they set their goals too high, and so when they are discouraged; it’s easy to quit. The longer you can stick with your plan, the more likely it is that you will be successful. What is something you’d like to work on?