COMMENTARY 984.4: Is It Really Only About Winning?

Long ago, I entered law school wanting to do good. I left more concerned with doing well.

In an atmosphere dominated by raging competitive instincts, persuasive rationalizations, and real economic pressures, cynicism drowned out idealism. My notion of the legal system as a grand forum for the pursuit of truth and justice was reduced to the idea that, in the end, it was just an adversarial game with a less noble purpose: win!

But it’s not just lawyers who are vulnerable to mission drift.

The idealistic drive of people who enter politics to pursue their personal version of the public good can be crushed or converted by real politics. It’s not easy to solve complicated problems in a world dominated by clashing convictions, limited resources, out-sized egos and consuming personal ambitions. And so, the acquisition and retention of power, initially the means to an end, becomes the end itself — the measure of success is winning.

If you’re involved in youth sports, you too may be the victim of mission drift.

Is youth sports really a recreational and educational activity designed to allow children to have fun and develop valuable life skills, or is it just an early field of combat teaching the lesson that it, in the end, it’s just about winning?

Josephson Institute’s challenging online self-assessment probes these issues and identifies the core beliefs and values of the parents who support their children’s involvement in sports and the coaches and other adults who administer the programs.

Does your sportsmanship measure up? Rate yourself:

• Take our self-assessment for athletes » 
• Take our self-assessment for coaches, parents, and administrators »

I suspect some of you will find a gap between your ideals and the reality you create or condone.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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