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One of the posts on this site with the most hits is Sports and Character (you may want to read the original first). Since people seem interested in the subject, I am following up with the post below, which my daughter wrote originally for her company’s newsletter. How pleased I am that she got the lessons we had hoped to teach as parents. We are always teaching, even when we don’t know it.
By the way, the young woman pictured below is the toothless child with trophies in Sports and Character. She’s currently VP of Human Resources for Atlantic Engineering Group.
For those of y’all who know me well, know that I am a little bit of a freak when it comes to college football. I grew up going to games with my dad and at a young age developed a deep devotion to my team that would eventually turn into my alma mater. My husband calls me a “mom fan.” So, what’s a “mom fan”? A “mom fan” is a fan no matter how my team performs, no matter the record at the end of the year, my love and devotion for the young kids that commit to my team are a part of my family, and I care for their well being regardless of a win or loss. I pray for their safety (on and off the field), I take interest in the personal lives that they are willing to share with the fan base, and I feel the need to protect and stick up for them if their character is ever brought into question. Overkill? Maybe…but we all have a little bit of crazy in us, and this just happens to be mine. I embrace it.
I tell you all this because I think it is important to set the stage for an eye opening experience I had a few weeks ago. I was in attendance of one of the best college football games, that I have ever and may ever see in my life, at my home stadium, but yet sitting in the visitor section. Talk about a lonely feeling….being literally yards from 85,000 of my best friends but immediately surrounded by my mortal enemy- at least for this particular Saturday in November. There were a lot of people around me that hated my team – almost as much as I hated theirs. They booed when my team took the field, they cheered when their defense stopped our run, and jumped up and down when my beloved quarterback got thrown on the ground. This is obviously part of the game, and obviously something I was just going to have to deal with, I mean, I was in fact cheering when the exact opposite happened and they were on the receiving end, but there was a man behind me that little did he know was teaching me a lesson.
His first comment that caught my attention was when he yelled something to the effect of, “Come on ref, give us a home team spot like you have been doing the whole time for them!” Only, his version was a bit more “colorful” than my edited variation. Then he proceeded to call my team “cheaters” roughly 20 to 30 times, again with a little more color than what I am prepared to share here and continuously attacked the character of our players and our entire program- never once making mention of his teams numerous false starts, missed tackles or broken coverage. Then the lesson came when his young son, my guess 7 to 9, turned to his father after a very debated call and said, “This ref hates us and we are going to lose the game because it is so unfair!” I realized that in that moment that father had taught his son that you can deflect responsibility and that when things don’t go your way you (or your team in this matter) don’t have to be the one responsible. It obviously must be someone else’s fault.
I realize that this is “just a football game” but it is a perfect illustration of the lack of responsibility assumption in this world. Too much deflecting, and not enough ownership and we are teaching this lesson to others around us. This situation, while I hope the father offsets this instance and we can just chalk it up to me being overactive in a very heated sporting event, taught me something that I want to pass on to my children: Be courageous enough to assume responsibility for your output into this world- whether it be good or bad.
Let me conclude by saying that I have left the team names out as to not offend anyone as I know that there are others out there just as crazy as I am about their team. We all have one here or there what we aren’t that proud of. I am also keenly aware, that somewhere in that sea of 87,000 people in attendance of that game, there was a man or woman cheering for that same team that was teaching their son about sportsmanship and humbleness.