Raising Athletes of Character

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Tom was sitting on the couch watching the evening news when his 13yr old son came racing down the stairs with a huge smile on his face. “Dad, look.” Nick handed his dad his report card and Tom began to smile as he read it from top to bottom. Nick had received all A’s on his report card even in his honor classes. This was big for Nick not only because he made his dad happy, but also because Nick knew he would be getting paid. Tom decided a long time ago that he would never give his children allowances, but he would instead compensate them for getting A’s and B’s in school and for reading books that he assigned them. So Tom proceeded to take out his wallet and give his son the money promises for the grades Nick received. Tom relaxed back in his chair and once again began to watch the evening news thinking his work was done.

Just before Tom could get focused on the news his son said, “Dad are you coming to Teacher Conferences?” Tom looked at his son in confusion and said, “Why, you have all A’s.” Nick looked at his dad with disappointment and said, “Dad, I really want you to come.” Tom reluctantly said ok and put Nick’s Teacher Conferences on his schedule.
On the day of the Teacher Conferences Tom was slightly irritated because he knew how time consuming the conferences would be and he didn’t think he needed to be there in the first place. Nick began to take his father around to all seven teachers and teacher by teacher moment by moment Tom began to realize why he needed to be at his sons Teacher Conferences. Every single teacher that Tom sat down with spoke about what great character Nick demonstrates in class and how he’s a leader for everyone in the school. There was very little to no discussion about Nick’s academic achievements because his grades had already painted the picture. However, there was one thing that a report couldn’t adequately explain and that was the exceptional character that Nick demonstrated at school on a daily basis. Then it happened; just as one of the teachers was raving about Nick’s character, Nick gazed over at Tom to see Tom’s reaction.

It was at that point that Tom knew full well why his son wanted him at Teacher Conferences. Nick just wanted his dad to be proud of him and he wanted to see that same look his dad gives him when he scores the winning touchdown at football games. Nick has always been one of the best athletes in every sport he plays and Tom gives him the proper training and encouragement to help him dominate. When it came to education however, Tom thought giving his son money would suffice. Compensating his son for good grades does help, but it will always fall short of your child truly knowing you’re proud of them.

As parents we play an important role in raising athletes of character. We can’t truly raise athletes of exceptional character if we put more emphasis on celebrating the winning shot or winning touchdown and ignore the acts of kindness. Athletes will continue to lack exceptional character as long as we continue to emphasize talent development and ignore character development.

What are your thoughts?