Mount Hermon, Mass. — If you know me at all, you know I am fascinated by social media. Our Northfield Mount Hermon basketball program jumped onto Twitter as one of the earliest users. In fact, there was a short time where we had more followers than USA Basketball and Duke Basketball combined! Social media is a great source of information, a terrific way to tell your story and build your brand, and an amazing place to get the pulse of the current culture.
Recently there was a hashtag on Twitter called #HowToConfuseAMillennial. There was commentary about millennials on all types of subjects. One of the Tweets suggesting how to confuse a millennial was “give them a first place trophy and no participation ribbons.” This one jumped out at me. I remember being raised on “second place is the first loser,” “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” “win at all costs,” etc. And now #HowToConfuseAMillennial offers us “When millennials ask why there (are) different color medals at the Olympics?”
When I worked on Wall Street we called this “Overreaction hypothesis,” which NASDAQ.com defines as “The supposition that investors overreact to unanticipated news resulting in exaggerated movements in stock prices followed by corrections.” Did there need to be a correction to the way my generation was raised with the win at all cost mentality? Of course. But did we overreact to that culture and go too far the other way? I think we have. The good news is that there is a model that has been in place for nearly 20 years thanks to Jim Thompson, founder of Positive Coaching Alliance.
I was fortunate enough to have received in 2016 one of PCA’s national Double-Goal Coach Awards. Needless to say, it is a great honor to be recognized by PCA for the work we do at Northfield Mount Hermon basketball. The philosophy of Better Athletes, Better People could not be more in line with Northfield Mount Hermon and our basketball program.
Northfield Mount Hermon is considered the best academic and basketball school in the United States. At NMH, we strive to have a winning program by creating a culture that does not sacrifice character for talent, and where leaders are creating leaders. Our goal is not winning championships, but giving our players the tools necessary to be 1. Personally Accountable and 2. Be the best version of themselves. We believe that if they are in constant pursuit of these two things that there will be fruit at the end!
Fortunately, there have been championships at season’s end for NMH basketball and success for our players beyond our court. We have won the 2012 and 2016 New England Championships and the 2013 National Prep Championships; over the past 11 years NMH basketball has had 28 McDonald’s All-American nominees. Our alums have gone on to win league championships across Division I and NCAA titles with Louisville and Duke. In the last two years NMH basketball alums have captained Dartmouth, Vermont (2x), Michigan (2x), Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. This year, there will be 56 Ivy League regular season games, and an NMH basketball alum will play in 54 of them.
Clearly, we believe in the mission of PCA. I hope, and expect, that the organization’s movement and philosophies will continue to build on the ideals of the Double-Goal Coach, “who strives to win while also pursuing the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports,” the Second-Goal Parent, who “concentrates on life lessons while letting coaches and athletes focus on competing,” and the Triple-Impact Competitor, “who strives to impact sport on three levels by improving oneself, teammates and the game as a whole.”
This is the correction that the sports culture and sports parenting needs at this time. Just as market prices often find their appropriate level, I feel that sports parenting and the culture of sport will find the appropriate level in between the win-at-all-cost and everyone getting a participation ribbon. That place is rooted in the philosophies and work of Positive Coaching Alliance.