Coaching Virtues

    Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  COLOSSIANS 3 : 12 - 15


    In the literature of sports, there are uncountable stories of the failures that befall those who forget the importance of behaving as we are instructed to in this verse.  Coaches and athletes are constantly presented with opportunities to display these characteristics, and it is at our own peril that we forget to uphold this standard.


    Obviously, it is much easier in these cases to know what to do than it is for us to follow through in the "heat of battle".  This verse serves to remind us how we are expected to act.

    We often have the opportunity to show mercy to our opponents, yet many coaches find it difficult to know when to "pull the plug" and ease up.  It might serve us well to remember a time when we were on the "short end of the stick" and imagine what we wish the other coach had done at the time.  It's important that we not forget just how bad we felt at the time, and be resolved not to inflict the same feelings on others.

    We are often presented with players and fellow coaches who require our kindness more than our rancor.   It is easy to forget that we have not spent the day, week, or year with the person we're responding to, and cannot fully understand what experiences they have had.  Perhaps it is our kind word today that makes all the difference in the world in how they proceed from here.

    Those who lose their humbleness of mind often find themselves subject to the cliché, "What goes around, comes around."  It behooves us to be meek about our success, lest we experience spectacular failure that will force that weakness.  Virtually every one of us knows someone who has lorded their success over all those they meet, and almost no other action results in more glee from opponents when the "shoe is on the other foot".

 We do well to remember that life really does seem to run in cycles of success and failure, and as Rudyard Kipling wrote, we need to "treat both impostors just the same".  Many coaches have suffered long bouts of losing, handling their trials with gentlemanly aplomb, only to be rewarded with success at the most significant moment. 

    We all know the value of extending charity to those less fortunate than ourselves, yet we often seem to forget that that charity applies just as meaningfully to our athletic endeavors.  Yet it is this we must do best, since it leads us toward perfection.  If we truly love the game, then we want the experience of every person who shares that game with us to be the best it possibly can be.

    If we are at peace with ourselves and others, it becomes much easier for us to be the example of forgiveness we are called to be.  Just as early Christians were called in this text to be "one body", so we as coaches and role models are called to remember that that which unites us is more important than that which divides us.  

    And, let us be Thankful: that we get to participate in sports, an activity that reveals our character daily; that we share the love of that endeavor with so many other good people; that we have the opportunity to teach our love for sports to the athletes with whom we are privileged to work; and that we experience the joy of seeing our protegés succeed in  ways that many teachers do not get to enjoy.


Questions for Reflection:
  ~ Which of the characteristics listed above do I exemplify best?
  ~~ Which ones do I struggle with the most?
  ~~~ How can I improve the characteristics that I perceive as weaknesses?
  ~~~~ Do I have any "personal issues" that cause me to behave differently than I really wish to?  How can I overcome those issues?
  ~~~~~ Have I taken a little time today to be thankful for all that sport has given me, and continues to provide in my life daily?

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