“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.” – John F. Kennedy
One of the great debates I’ve seen with coaches over the last few years is old school vs. new school mentality. What I’ve learned personally is that, sometimes, as coaches, we do things because we were taught to do them, but we don’t necessarily think about what benefit (or lack thereof) they possess.
For example, when I was in middle school, I had a friend that was in 8th grade that just made the JV baseball team. This guy was an excellent ball player, but he didn’t necessarily “look the part”. He had long hair and an earring. When congratulating him on making the team, he mentioned that he was a bit bummed out because he had to cut his hair to keep his spot. I didn’t really understand that. I just assumed it was part of the gig. But, looking back, I just wonder, what was the point of that? Did cutting his hair change him into something else? Did he suddenly become a “better” human being because his hair was shorter? Somehow, I doubt it.
We’ve heard the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” a million times, but we tend to put parameters on it; “don’t judge a book by its cover as long as the cover is what we deem to be appropriate.” It doesn’t work. The kids that we coach and mentor are struggling to find their way, so, instead of telling them that they need to look and dress a certain way, how about we guide them into being good people who make good decisions? Maybe we explain to them that tolerance and acceptance of people is important, and stress the idea that it is imperative to work to serve others. Doesn’t that make more sense than a hair cut?
I know a lot of coaches that still believe in that old school method. My question to them is this: why? I assume the argument is that they are attempting to make them understand that perception is a big factor in life and how you appear to others affects this. I get that. But, I’d argue that, instead of judging by what we see, maybe we take the time to understand before passing judgment.
Let’s try to not define what the cover should be before we judge it.
Or, better yet, let’s try not to judge at all.
Have an awesome Monday,