COMMENTARY 794.5: Doing Sports Right

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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Comments 4

  1. this is a very great story it shows on how much he wanted to play even though he wasn’t put on the a or b team after 3 years its hard to beleive that someone would still be that enthuastiac to play.

  2. While I agree that sports done well can be a character builder and that we must hold individuals who cheat or exhibit poor sportsmanship accountable, I think it is simplistic to lay all the blame on “bad apples.” Our culture has created an infrastructure around sports that encourages over competitiveness and discourages playing sports for fun and character building. The money involved in sports and the promise of college scholarships holds chimeric allure causing great temptation. Watching pro athletes strut and brag exposes us to poor role models. Anytime we watch pro sports (adding to advertising dollars) or sign our kids up for select soccer (sending the message that soccer is more important than school or family time) we become part of the problem. I would venture that the sports problem is bigger than a few folks; we are all to blame.

  3. I have to say I am very disappointed with today’s school sports. Nowadays, Michael, you would not have been able to play at all, as there are no C or B teams or even Freshman teams at our school for all sports, especailly the girl’s teams. If you are not a travel ball kid (which costs alot of money) or spent your summers and off seasons with the team, and was enrolled in that sport’s pe class, you cannot even think about making the team. If you want to play on the team you are asked to pay $300-500 ‘donations’ which cover the bus, uniforms, and coach’s or assistant coaches stipend. If you don’t pay these donations right away you are sent emails telling you , you haven’t ‘donated’ yet.

    I too found refuge in my school’s sports teams. It was the only thing that kept me interested in school. Sports too taught me life skills needed in all aspects of life. I tried out and made teams for sports that I had never played before, but because I worked hard and practiced on my own time, I eventually started. I didn’t have to worry about asking my parents for money to play, because it was free.

    It is a shame that due to budget cuts, that a variety of sports levels are one of the first things to go…and all the opportunties for kids, like you and me, to grow and develop as people.

    I never would have made the team today, with the ultra competitive, expensive cost

  4. Pingback: COMMENTARY 816.4: Kids Like to Win; Adults Need to Win

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