Sport is No Longer the Vehicle That Offers Invaluable Lesson for Kids.
It happened again. It’s the reason I rarely watch sports these days – college or professional.
Baylor, my alma mater, is embarrassed in the NCAA tournament – not by the first round loss to Yale but by the behavior of the players. It’s sad. I remember when the point of team sports was to develop character, sportsmanship, and a sense of team (each man working towards a common goal with others on the team). Baylor’s loss was of no consequence to me – the classless behavior is utterly embarrassing.
You might ask how I knew Baylor lost the game if I don’t closely follow sports these days. Good question. One of my students, a Yale graduate, told me. He also mentioned the exchange of words and the shoving of a teammate during a timeout. I decided to check it out. One word sums this up – disgraceful.
In short, Yale played team ball while out-hustling and out-classing a disappointing and undisciplined Baylor team.
Headlines are awash with references to the Baylor altercation and the tournament upset, including quips like, Yale Shoves Baylor Aside in Upset Win.
When are we going to insist as a society that athletes behave in a civil and respectable manner?
When are college coaches going to start taking a hard look at the parents of the athletes that may receive scholarships to determine how these kids were raised and predictably how they will conduct themselves?
When are coaches going to stop saying, “these are good kids”, when they simply are not “good” or “kids”?
I don’t want my children learning how to tackle life’s obstacles by watching sports. I sit here writing this article still unsure as to why an athlete would celebrate an exceptional individual effort by posing, dancing around, or otherwise celebrating when his team is losing the game by 30 points. What is that? How can others on the team look at this behavior and believe that the one celebrating is – in any way – playing for the team’s benefit?
It’s not just Baylor. It’s not just college athletes. Professional athletes make healthy to incredibly monstrous salaries playing a game. Many are poorly equipped, pampered millionaires that will blow their fortunes within a few short years of leaving professional sports. Undoubtedly, many will blame someone else and claim they didn’t get a fair shake. Ironically, when fleeting fame is gone and the money has been blown with breathtakingly irresponsible behavior, the lack of the life lessons that SPORT should have instilled in these athletes will be some of the very reasons for their catastrophic failures.
So what am I to do when my oldest son wants to watch the Super Bowl? I let him watch. I point out what a class act Payton Manning is as he plays, leads, and encourages his teammates and identify the disgusting and inappropriate actions of other bad actors – hoping each will be a teachable moment for my son.
This reality is also why I insist my children pursue Krav Maga training. I want each of them to face difficulty and overcome through planning, hard work, consistency, and commitment to the task or goal. I want them to fail and try again. I want them to fall and get back up. I want them to learn through personal experience significant self-discipline, perseverance, respect for others, self-confidence, and growing independence.
I look to Krav Maga. What do you want for your children, and where will you find it? It won’t be in the culture of SPORT – not anymore.