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?
ATLANTA, GA (February 15, 2019) – The 15th Annual Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, an award given to the most outstanding role models among athletes, has announced collegiate honorees for its 2019 award ceremony to be held in Atlanta at a date this spring to be announced. Bob Ryan, the famed sportswriter for the Boston Globe and analyst for ESPN, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies.
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 high school, collegiate, Olympic, and professional sports. Annual nominations are open to every division and conference in college sports, and to athletes in public and private high schools across the country in partnership with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
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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.”
ATLANTA (January 1, 2019) – Athletes for a Better World (ABW) and The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) have formed a partnership to annually recognize one male and one female national NIAAA scholarship winner as automatic recipients of the prestigious Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup. These two high school athletes will join one collegiate and one professional recipient each year as exemplary role models of the ABW Code for Living. The recipients of the high school class of 2018 are Sarah Rauch and Evan Gwozdz who will receive the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup in the spring of 2019. ABW Executive Director Brad Catherman and NIAAA officials celebrated this achievement with the two recipients at the Opening General Session of the National Athletic Directors Conference conducted on December 15, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas.
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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?
While we are thinking holiday thoughts and football playoffs two men are vying to become the first person to walk all the way across Antarctica unassisted in any way. Colin O’Brady, an American adventure athlete, and Louis Rudd, a captain in the British Army are both attempting this ultimate challenge against the most unforgiving forces of nature. They are each pulling a 300 pound toboggan with supplies as they trudge their way. Here is part of a news report: “After that 4 a.m. wake-up call, with the roaring polar winds rattling his tent, Rudd emerged into another total whiteout. He plowed ahead for 11 hours covering 18 miles…”
The Code says, “I will give my best effort…” The will to win, the will to persevere, the will to “give our best effort” is much easier said than done. There is a difference between making a good, solid, effort and doing our best. Even when we want to do our best, it is sometimes difficult to summon that effort. How can you think about this? Can you develop your will, strengthen your will? Like all things, we think it takes constant effort, it takes a daily commitment to doing our best. These men are doing what they are doing because they have trained in difficult conditions for a long time. We have to train and develop our will on a daily basis in order to find that “something extra” when it matters most. Do you realize that the daily effort you make to develop your skills will also reap the rewards of a more determined will?