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Adults as Role Models

{ Sunday, June 26th, 2011 }

“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating. Youngsters need good models more than they need critics. It’s one of a parent’s greatest responsibilities and opportunities.” ~ John Wooden

I used that quote as my status on Facebook this past week. I got 14 “likes” and 2 comments from that post. It obviously resonated with many people.  There really is no way to ignore the facts. Good manners are taught at home first. Children and teens mimic what they observe from their parents, teachers, coaches and caregivers. It is critical that we remember that at all times. Having a bad day? We all do. It is healthy for children to observe that to some extent as well. Just know that these little eyes are watching you intently. They are hearing and absorbing everything you say and do. They will grow up to be “mini me’s” and you want that to be with your good traits, not your negative traits.

Where is the penalty?

{ Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 }

There are many instances when manners collide in youth sports. Adults and kids must maintain balance to manners

A friend of mines’ son recently quit his baseball team with 2 weeks left to go in a long season.  As parents we tell our kids they need to finish what they start, and see their commitments through to the end. Yet how long can some withstand non-endearing adult behavior and reinforcement of entitled poor Father/Son, Coach/Player behavior detrimental to others. At what point do you decide to endure, or detour the situation?

Imagine this…Your child is in the dugout. The coach’s son, granted preferred playtime, independent of talent or behavior, comes in to the dugout, and starts calling all of the kids on the bench a bunch of “losers & faggots.” Adults watch and don’t address this behavior. This carries on for the season… positive reinforcement for bad behavior. Most of us have seen abuses of “DaddyBall,” and its tough when it supports bad behavior. Later that game, the same athlete strikes out, and screams “F**k off” to his mom as she encourages from the stands. Similar incidents occurred multiple times while league officials repeatedly witnessed and tolerated these outbursts through the year without action. Disparaging and attacking behavior continued toward other teammates in almost every practice/game. Eventually the decision is made, my friend’s son chooses  not spend their free time in such a caustic environment.

Another more prominent instance occurred at the 2011 California High School State Championships. A Pole Vaulter, finished 3rd in the state , yet was disqualified for screaming an EXPLETIVE after a failed final attempt. This was a double whammy as not only did they disbar his 3rd place finish, but because of that, his team lost the STATE TITLE, finishing second. His entire High School Track Team lost the ”State Title” because of an errant and offensive F-BOMB.  One’s “Manners under fire” or “Composure under fire” impacts not only you yet so many others. For the little leaguer, hopefully he corrects himself yet the dad creates a legacy for himself. For the Pole Vaulter, this moment becomes his legacy. He will address this or work to move past this for years to come.

When it comes to manners, respect and sportsmanship, I feel it is our right and responsibility to be advocates for our children. For adults, our respect, sportsmanship, and behavior  impact so many. My hope is that we can conduct ourselves in a  positive manner so that we can be instrumental in helping our children leave a legacy they can be proud of.