There’s More To Sports Than Winning


By Shaleek Blackburn

When it comes to sports culture, we live in a hard-charging, win-at-all-costs minded world. From Little League fields and high school gymnasiums to college campuses and sprawling stadiums where we fervently cheer on our favorite teams, the end game for players and coaches alike is to always put points on the board and claim victory.

Not so, says Dave Cowen, resident faculty and lead instructor of the Masters in Coaching and Athletic Administration Program at Concordia University Irvine. If not to win, what then is the value of sports and the philosophy behind why coaches lead and players suit up?

“In today’s sports-crazy society, we want the programs that we’re involved with to be winners, and we all can’t be winners,” says Cowen. “We have to be able to help not only the student-athletes in particular, but their parents, to put winning and losing in the proper perspective.” That appropriate view, asserts Cowen, is to be open and honest about the athlete’s ability and skill level.

“If we put forth our best effort, that should be good enough,” he says. “If, as a coach, you’re always getting the best out of your players, then the wins will take care of themselves.”

According to Cowen’s CUI faculty teammate and veteran Sport Ethics professor of the MCAA program, Dean Vieselmeyer, coaches and administrators also need to understand that their value lies not only in nurturing athletic talent, but developing “whole people.”

“Sports is a microcosm of life; we all set goals and want to achieve them,” Vieselmeyer says. “Our program deals with [teaching and guiding] the whole person. Not just the physical part, but the emotional, academic, spiritual and social parts.” Equally critical to success on the field, is for coaches to focus on their development, advises Cowen.

“It’s important for coaches to develop a solid philosophy.” As they’re examining themselves and doing some retrospective analysis, they need to find what those things are; what they value and what it is that they want to achieve. Whether it’s in the classroom, on a court or on a field,” Cowen says.

3 Tips For Players, Coaches And Administrators

When developing a philosophy, coaches should ask themselves:

  • What’s important to me?
  • What do I believe in?
  • What’s going to guide and help me impact others?

When making team rules:

  • Study your team
  • Learn how they like to receive feedback
  • Develop skills and character
  • Be consistent; treat every player equally

Four-Step game plan for practical success:

  • Have fun
  • Use your influence wisely
  • Lead by positive example
  • Put theories into play

Tags: philosophy, coaching, leadership

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