COMMENTARY 930.3: Doing Sports Right

by Michael Josephson on May 5, 2015

in Commentaries, Sportsmanship

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When I was a kid playing sports, there were no clubs, travel teams, or private coaches. Except for summer baseball leagues, the primary place to play was high school. When I was in the 10th grade, I wanted to play basketball in the worst way.

Unfortunately, given my size and talent, that’s how I played. But in those days, sports was part of the educational program. To accommodate every kid who wanted to play, there were four skill levels: varsity, junior varsity, B, and C teams.

I was a third-stringer on the C team, with the ambition to play in 12 quarters during the season, the minimum requirement for a letterman’s jacket.

Fortunately, the coach liked my spunk and put me in at the end of games when I could do no harm. In the last quarter of the last game, he made sure I got my letter by giving me an eight-second stint. Although I think I played less than two minutes of game time during that season, I was part of the team and played in every practice.

Three years later, I was the only senior still on the C team, but I was a starter! Of all my high school achievements, none was more important than my three basketball letters.

But it wasn’t just recreation. It was education. My sports experience strengthened my character and helped me develop important life skills, including goal-setting, preparation, and perseverance. It also taught me a lot about honor and sportsmanship.

So when you read chilling stories about cheating coaches, out-of-control fans, or spoiled athletes, don’t blame sports. Blame the people who aren’t doing it right.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Allan Krauter April 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I loved playing sports in high school, but it wasn’t until my own daughters decided to try sports for the first time in high school that I realized how well you play doesn’t matter one-tenth as much as simply playing. They learned so much about depending on others, being reliable, keeping your temper, working together, exhalting in victory and living with failure — the same things I learned but didn’t realize I had learned until much later.


Allan Krauter April 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm

And yes, they had coaches who “did it right.”


Scott Galloway April 19, 2013 at 3:31 am

My first year in coaching football, I was assigned the 8th grade C team. I had a blast. Four years later, one of those C teamers was named the outstanding lineman on the varsity.

Today, so many people are trying to make money off sport by putting on the exposure events. Parents hope these will lead to money saved (scholarship) or money made (pro contract). In that environment, players don’t play for their team, they play for themselves. Sport in America is in a sad state.


Judy Rossetter May 5, 2015 at 7:55 am

Congratulations on your three letters Michael!

While I was not personally involved in sports, my son was. Fortunately, among his many coaches he had a few who helped teach him right, principled and moral behavior. Today he is a responsible young man of character, of whom I am very proud.


andy_pittman May 5, 2015 at 6:59 pm

This is an edited version of a Letter to the Editor written by a mother that appeared in the Waco Tribune Herald in the early 1960s. I enjoyed playing sports but I was not always the best athlete. I can relate to bench strength.

}It is easy for us to recognize those who are the stars but we also need to recognize those who are bench strength. Bench strength showers, dresses and goes home as weary and bruised as the next one and returns for the next practice session with the same hope and energy. They are the ones who rarely get press notices, letter jackets or crowd applause but they should be given those things also because they have given the human element in silence and in sweat and cooperation so that the main team will look its best.
}Stars should have a special day in which they are recognized but there should also be a special day for bench strength because they wear out the seats of their uniform pants trying to help put their team on top.


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