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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