Deflated Character

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I consider myself an avid sports fan.  Actually, I’m somewhere above that mark.  I love sports; always have.  So it is not surprising that I was one of the 114.4 million viewers of the Super Bowl on Sunday.  I was part of the television record setting evening.  I’m not so sure that I’ve ever missed a Super Bowl, or any other major sporting event on TV.  But I’m not here to tell you how great it was.  I’m not here to tell you the Seahawks should have ran the ball at the end.  I’m not here to tell you that the ball was deflated.  Something else has become deflated and it’s having a profound impact on society.
Sportsmanship has become deflated.  At the end of the game, when emotions were high, and the game was on the line, our model athletes missed an opportunity to have a profound impact on our children.  Instead, emotions got the best of them and a fight ensued.  Before I go any further, I want people to understand that I get it.  It’s the biggest game of the year, and the last few seconds of the game.  Passion tends to trump poise in these moments.  But over 114 million people were watching and many were children.  We need to get this right.  We need to show that character wins in the end.  I particularly like the Old Italian Proverb “after the game is over, both the king and the pawn go back into the same box.”

Now early on in my career as an educator and coach you could call me hypocritical from the words I have just previously mentioned.  However, eleven years later you could not.  You see in education we are faced with the challenge of not only teaching critical content, but also critical competencies.  We must teach character.  We teach students to say please and thank you.  We teach students to respect others and treat people as they would like to be treated.  We stress sportsmanship at activities.  Win, lose. or draw we are all winners we tell them. 
How can we expect them to believe us, when some of the greatest athletes in the world are showing them different?  It also goes further than sport.  Next year marks a presidential election year.  Will our potential presidential candidates play nice?  Will they show respect for their competition?  Will they express their views in good faith and give credit to others when it is due.  If our nation’s leaders can’t show good character, how can we teach our students to do different?

I understand that there are some very good role models out there.  We do have many great people in this world doing remarkable things.  Our students are faced with the challenge of sifting through right and wrong, and as adults we must do our best to model the right.  I’ve always said that if we think better and act better, or world will be better.   We as a society must make this our ultimate goal.  As adults we must be held to a higher standard.  Winning or losing will never define us; character does.  How will people define you?

Travis Jordan


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