I think every hockey player who has ever played for me knows that I have a passion for all things John Wooden. In particular I love Wooden quotes. There will be many more revealed along the way.
” Sports do not build character, they reveal it.” – John Wooden
I think this is such a relevant quote for today’s athlete. Character is such a buzzword for teachers and coaches of youth athletes, and although we use it a lot, I am not sure if we are all on the same page in regards to its meaning. Our character determines how we respond to situations. In the heat of battle, true character is revealed because we are asked to respond to success and failures every day. We can see who is willing to cut corners on their path to success. We see who will cheat to win and who will win with humility and class. We see who can handle setbacks and persevere. We see values like respect, honor, and loyalty. We can see who shows up every day prepared for work. We see who has the stamina to last for the long haul. We get to see inside the mental makeup of an athlete because sports put athletes in situations every day that cause them to learn more about themselves. I love sports for these reasons and a whole lot more.
Now, if it is the sport that reveals character, it is the coach who must build and teach character, values, and skills that team members can carry with them through their lives. Our athletes will not always make the right character decisions. We as coaches are responsible for recognizing those teachable moments. We must recognize and praise good character in the process. It is easy to see what is wrong in the world. We must remind ourselves to use positive reinforcement and point out all the things that are right with our players. I am not sure if they hear that message enough. Coaches have the opportunity to see our own character and our players character tested every day, and we must recognize that we are the front line in character education.
For all employers out there, give me a game, turn up the heat, and I can tell you who to hire. Sports are the perfect job interview. It won’t take long for you to pick your team.