Moral relativism is in vogue in our culture today. And while this may not be the conventional way to open up a sports column, this attitude is important to the world of sports.
We live in a society that says if it feels good, do it, regardless of the consequences for our fellow man. However, the arena of sports is one of the only areas that asks us to give ourselves up to something greater (the good of the team), and truly do the right thing. It’s the final frontier of a true form of moralism.
This moralistic culture is driven mostly from the top. From the coaches who aren’t afraid to browbeat their players into doing the right thing, and often take severe steps to restrict illicit behavior. Men in the past like Bo Schembechler, Vince Lombardi and John Wooden, and men like Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K), Jim Tressel (before the fall) and Tony Dungy.
Schembechler suspended players if they set foot in a bar and he found out about it. Tressel’s infamous Winners Manual that he gave to his teams each year relied heavily on material that told the player they weren’t the most important person in the world – instead telling them it’s the team that matters.
Dungy is well known for his strong insistence on holding his players to a higher standard, and if the standard wasn’t met, the player was cut loose.
Specifically on a college campus, where a lifestyle of extremes is far too popular, looking toward the type of life a coach asks his/her players to live may be a good model.
Character matters and coaches are generally not afraid to say it. And that’s because it’s so essential to their success.
You see, this character-focused style is derived directly from the fact that, coaches are in the business of winning – that’s their bottom line. And an emphasis on living right and taking steps towards building a well functioning community, among other things are, what they have determined is the best way to win games.
Very few leaders in any area of our country have any interest in providing moral leadership or clarity due to fear of offending their subordinates.
And this is somewhat as it should be.
I’m not stupid enough to call for a return to the days of Mad Men, when an overly moralistic and closed off culture led to disastrous consequences, but I am calling for leaders to use coaches, more specifically college coaches, as a model for leadership. We’ll see if a change is in store.