This week’s topic, “Honoring The Game,” is one of the most sacred of principles we teach for athletes, coaches, parents and leaders. It speaks to not only the reverence of the game but to the overall respect for the culture of the team. Coaches know honoring the game is critical to centering the values and behaviors of their players, especially in those times when things may not be going as planned.
Because life is a team sport, you as parents are finding yourselves stepping into the role of coach and the team you have to manage is your family unit. Learning to honor the game is uniquely valuable as we manage through this current predicament, but also as we look to the future there is an opportunity to reimagine together what youth sports can be.
The key tenets of this principle of honoring the game are represented by the acronym ROOTS, which stands for respecting Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and Self. Roots are what hold a tree in place and roots are what hold your team in place. Each aspect is articulated below.
The rules of a sport have been developed and modified for a reason. Rules keep the game fair, and they also keep athletes safe. It’s important not to try to work against the rules or bend them; respect the role they play in your sport. This is something that is relevant to athletes at any age and something you can start teaching your children at an early age. Right now as you manage your way through home life, you will find respect for the rules of the household are vitally important to maintaining a healthy routine.
Officials are doing the best they can to enforce the rules and maintain a safe environment for play and there is never an excuse for disrespecting them, especially when you consider how important they are to the sport itself.
You can still have a game if you’re missing an assistant coach or even a star player, but without the official there is no game. Helping kids to honor the game by understanding and respecting the role of the official is a character development that will do them well as they become positive contributors to society as a whole.
We teach our players never do anything to embarrass, take for granted or disrespect their teammates. This holds just as true on the bus back from a game as it does on during the game. Because the heat of competition can sometimes bring out the worst in each of us, it helps to develop personal and team routines to reinforce this interpersonal respect. At home, and especially among siblings, as a parent you can facilitate bonding activities for your children to build this level of regard for one another.
While self appears last in the acronym of ROOTS we believe, this learned behavior is the most important and the very foundation of this principal. Individuals with self-respect would never dishonor the game because they have their own standards that they always want to live up to. This means possessing the moral courage to stand up for what they believe in even when they see that others don’t. As a parent, the best way to build respect for oneself in your kids is to take notice and acknowledge this behavior when you see it. This means if you see your child cleaning up a mess they didn’t create, or witness them adhering to their committed study regiment, this is something you should bring this to their attention and celebrate it.
From the outset of this, albeit temporary, new normal we have held strong to our long held belief that life is a team sport. It is why we have empowered parents with the tools to teach the very same leadership skills at home that we provide to our coaches on the field. However, as we plan for the return to sports, these lessons you hone with your children at home can in turn further their character and enable them to be a positive influence on the game and the world around them moving forward.
Life is a team sport, and now more than ever, we need to be good teammates to one another.