The Final Score: Building Better People

As we move into tournament season, there is a lot of water cooler talk during the day about who won and who lost. Let’s talk about that more but first let’s send a shout out of thanks to all who coach, direct, and advise our students in co and extra-curricular activities. Such work has proved pivotal to the education of young people for well over 150 years.

Believe it or not, high school sports were invented for poor urban children who lived in such small apartments that they played in the streets. Having organized sports not only gave students something to do to keep them off the streets, but also, organized activities engaged kids from various cultures in the melting pot of our country. Sports taught values like hard work, team work, how to play with honor, and how to lose or win with grace. In short, sports were designed to build a better people. Though people complain that has all been lost, I disagree. We tend to notice and highlight examples of poor sportsmanship. However, when you think of the technical foul or the temper tantrum, those are rare moments in a game rather than the totality of the game.

I am concerned about something though, and that is that we are seeing the loss of the three-season athlete. Part of the reason for this is the pressure to excel at one sport, beginning shortly after learning to walk.  The articles linked here discuss the value of kids exploring a variety of sports, fine arts, and academic courses while they are in middle and high school. Enjoy this article.

The second article in that same link reminds us that educators, are given the chance to “hard” teach and coach kids to become young adults. Millennial students may not stumble upon this set of skills. Instead, we must teach them how to internalize values like personal responsibility and skills such as how to problem solve, how to use criticism to grow, how to accept a challenge, and how to offer a challenge, respectfully. What we ought not do is compare this generation to our generation because there’s little about our childhood that resembles theirs. This is not your mini-me generation.

Students who are taught to accept a challenge, to work hard, to understand they are one part of a team, and that it’s part of life to lose tend to find more personal satisfaction and external success than kids who are taught only to win. Our local business community told us the same when they helped define the BPS vision. (Click here to read notes from that session).

As you end your work week, take a moment to thank those engaged in “building a better people” – people who are taught values instilled through challenge.


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