Pursuing Victory With Honor
Sports best achieves its positive impact on participants and society when everyone plays to win. In fact, without the passionate pursuit of victory much of the enjoyment, as well as the educational and spiritual value, of sports will be lost. Winning is important and trying to win is essential! But, achieving excellence without integrity isn’t winning, nor is it honorable. The object of the game is to win, but the objective of sport should be to teach students critical character skills that will serve them the rest of their life.
Fortunately, coaching character helps us achieve both goals – winning the game and developing the whole athlete. Teamwork, accountability, responsibility, work ethic, and discipline are critical to competitive success and individual growth. Talent matters, but the talent of your team will never outperform the culture and character of your team.
Sports build character. It’s an oft-repeated cliché. It’s also misleading. Sports can and should build character skills, but doing so requires intentional coaching of those skills.
The T.E.A.M. Approach
Intentional coaching of character requires that we Teach, Enforce, Advocate, and Model the values we want our student-athletes to demonstrate. These four elements should guide the design of all elements of programs to promote sportsmanship and foster good character as well as guide interactions with athletes, parents, coaches, officials, and spectators.
Teach – As coaches, our job is to turn values into behaviors. What do the Six Pillars of Character mean on our team? What do they look like? Why do they matter? How will we hold ourselves and others accountable for demonstrating the Six Pillars every day?
Enforce – Once we teach our student-athletes the character skills we want them to demonstrate, we must hold them accountable to our standards consistently and fairly.
Advocate – Likewise, we want to praise our student-athletes when we see them putting our values into action, constantly encourage the behaviors we want to see, and explain why those behaviors matter.
Model – Finally, we must model the behaviors we want to see our student-athletes demonstrate.
Honoring the Mission
The Pursuing Victory With Honor project helps interscholastic, intercollegiate, and other youth sports programs better achieve their established missions to promote the physical, mental, social, and moral development of participants.