StateChamps recently partnered with Athletes for a Better World, an organization that focuses on strong character-building for youth athletes. Their book “Winning More Than the Game” really hit home for me when talking about sports role models, and how everyone is a role model (not just the people we look up to).
Everyone is a Role Model
Here’s the preamble to the Athletes for a Better World “Code for Living:”
“Because I am a role model and have the opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in the lives of others, I commit to this Code. I will take responsibility and appropriate actions when I fail to live up to it.”
Because I am a role model. Not “should I someday want to be a role model.”
“Winning More Than the Game” cites a few different examples about how everyone is a role model: it mentions how we think about and judge behavior based on what we see others doing. For example, a child behaving badly at a soccer game causes you to think about and make judgment on the child, and the child’s parents. So the child is acting as a role model, whether or not he or she means to.
“…we are continuously formed and re-formed as we observe and react to those around us.”
As a parent of an ODP (Olympic Development Program) soccer player, I have a front row seat to the high-stakes environment of competitive play. Between players, parents, and coaches, you can see how relationships between the various individuals all make a big difference in how a particular player might act on or off the field.
For me, the key takeaway here is this: be mindful. And teach your players to be mindful.
Conflicts will always arise, emotions will always flare up, and conflict resolution will never get easier. But by being mindful of how we act, and recognizing that our actions impact the worldview of others, we can hopefully create a community of positive growth and mutual benefit.
“Each day presents us with countless opportunities to offer a kind word, to encourage another person, and to somehow brighten the day of another.”
That doesn’t mean that we should brush off the conflicts or avoid addressing questionable behavior: character development is not all sunshine and butterflies. It’s up to us as parents, teachers, or coaches to show kids why they’ve done something wrong, and teach them to recognize how to move past it and not repeat their mistakes.
Looking for the resource that inspired this article? You can pick up the Athletes for a Better World book “Winning More Than The Game” by clicking here.