“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
In September of this year, a Utah high school football coach suspended every single player on his team. He had heard rumors of his players bullying other students, disrespecting teachers and his student-athletes underperforming in the classroom. Instead of just calling out individual students, he suspended the entire team and made them earn their way back on it. Instead of practicing and preparing for an upcoming game, his athletes performed community service, attended study halls and learned about character.
According to the coach, Matt Labrum, “We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going. We felt like we needed to make a stand.”
Could you make this call? Would you make this same decision? As a coach, would you be willing to put character development ahead of winning? The answer we’d all like to give is a resounding ‘yes’, but, in all honesty, if I had been faced with this situation as a younger coach, I don’t know that I could or would have made this call. I doubt I’m alone.
In this blog, we’ve touched on subjects like character, doing the right thing, and setting a positive example. Coach Labrum’s actions absolutely nail this on the head. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about coaches making their kids earn their way back on the team, but it’s often after a loss when the coach feels like full effort wasn’t given or that the players don’t “care enough”. I find this type of exercise to be fairly hollow. (Coaches, if you read Todd Gongwer’s “Lead…For God’s Sake!”, you’ll find out who’s really to blame in these circumstances.) When carried out like Coach Labrum and his staff, the lessons stretch way beyond the playing field.
As a leader of young men and women, never lose sight of your purpose. Be willing to make the tough call. Place an emphasis on character. The lessons learned are worth so much more than wins and losses.
Have an awesome Saturday,