Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Measure of a Man

I remember a few years back when Tim Tebow was a senior at Florida preparing for the NFL draft. There was quite a bit of discussion about whether he had the skill set to be an NFL quarterback. He ended up drafted to Denver, and this past off-season was traded to the Jets. Tim's biggest athletic criticism is how he releases the ball and his tendency to be flushed from the pocket too soon. Since the NFL is known to be a passing league these days, those may be fair criticisms. Now, I am a pretty big football fan, and this time of year if the television set is on, it is probably tuned to a football game. You may also see me roaming the sidelines on Friday night here at Hudson. That being said, I am by no means an expert and don't pretend to know all the strategies and nuances of the game. As mentioned above, those may be fair criticisms of Tim, but that is for him to work out with his coaches. All I know is when he does step on the field, it is pretty exciting to watch.

What isn't fair is the criticism to his value system. This young man takes a lot of grief because he is a good guy. Now, please don't mistake the point I am trying to make here. This isn't an endorsement of Tim's faith or anything remotely related to his specific beliefs. I do believe that Tim is genuine in what he says and how he acts. Does it seem a little backward to you that he is criticized for this?

In an era where our youngsters emulate professional athletes as role models, isn't Tim Tebow just the kind of athlete you would like your child to look up to? Instead, we hold up as role models athletes who have had all sorts of legal problems ranging from adultery, armed robbery, assault, domestic abuse, and even dog fighting.

Stay with me folks, I am going somewhere here. 

Certainly it is argued that some of our fallen athletes are admired for their athletic prowess on the field or court. Perhaps that is fair considering our own commitment to high school athletics across our country. High school sports are an important part of what we do [and who we are] in our schools. Not only is it an ingrained component of school culture, sports teach many things that can't be taught within the walls of the classroom. 

This is a critical point to remember when we talk about education reform in Iowa. A lot of comparisons have been made between American schools and our counterparts around the globe. Many of these school systems do not have sports as part of their curriculum (I use the word curriculum deliberately in this instance).

So what are we teaching our student-athletes? Hopefully we are teaching them that there are things in life way more important than winning. Now winning is important, but it is not the most important. What is important is teaching our young student-athletes to be a little bit more like Tim Tebow and a little less like Brett Favre.

The person or persons responsible for teaching that directive are our coaches. We can either have a coach like Fran McCaffery (you may remember Coach McCaffery's ride on the crazy train last December; you can check out my comments on his antics here) or we can have a coach like Barry Scott.

Are we doing that here? You be the judge. When Coach Scott interviewed for the head coaching job, he told Mr. Dieken and Mr. Wurzer that one of his goals was to teach 'these boys' to be men. Pretty profound statement, and one that may be hard to live up to with the pressures of winning.

So anyway, last Friday night Applington-Parkersburg came to town. AP is one tough opponent, and they had something to prove after getting beat pretty bad by Union the week before. You all know how the game ended, we got beat....handily. It seemed that we just couldn't really get anything going, and there was a lot to be frustrated by. 

However, there was a silver lining. After the game, the head referee stopped Mr. Dieken and myself at the locker room and said, "Your coach is a class act. Most wouldn't have responded to that the way he did." Now I know the team didn't hear this, and at the time didn't really care. In fact, Coach Scott wasn't all that interested in hearing about the silver lining of the game that night.

But here is the point, and be warned it is very cliche: "It isn't whether you win or lose, but how you play the game." We lost honorably. Our student athletes have a great role model to look up to, and yes to teach 'these boys' to be men.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the outstanding tribute to a wonderful teacher and coach!