Friday, June 22, 2012

The True Values of Athletics

Hello Advocates for Injured Athletes readers. My name is Joe Reilly and thanks to my Aunt and founder of A4IA, Beth Mallon, I have recently decided to begin blogging for A4IA.

Athletics has always been a foundation in my life. From a very young age I was hooked on participating in, watching, and discussing sports – part of this is due to the fact that I grew up with two younger brothers to whom I never wanted to lose (similar to the Mallon boys). Baseball was the sport I was drawn to and I was blessed to be able to compete until I graduated from college in May of 2011 from Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee. Although I no longer am able to participate I have found an antidote that is nearly as fulfilling: coaching. After graduating college I accepted a position at the Wesleyan School in Norcross, GA as a Middle School history teacher, and cross country and baseball coach.

Life as a coach is much more than statistics. It is certainly much more than wins and losses, which is something that many coaches lose sight of from time to time. Coaches have the rare opportunity to be a leader, coach, and teacher at the same time. Yes, a coach needs to help his or her athletes improve their physical abilities. Yes, a coach needs to strive for success on the field of play. These are both valid goals of a coach that are included in many job descriptions. However, the true goal of every coach should be something that is not explicitly stated in the job description: the teaching of life lessons. Being able to impart the qualities and values of honor, integrity, humility, courage, grace, and resilience upon your athletes is of the utmost importance as a coach regardless of the level. As an athlete failure is inevitable. How an athlete reacts to this failure is a way in which a coach can measure success. If athletes can make the above qualities a part of their everyday lives on and off the field then a coach has achieved perfection.

Advocates for Injured Athletes mission, values, and goals fall directly in line with this. Our mission states: “To promote sports safety and to provide essential support, education, and resources to help keep athletes safe.” Thus, if that means risking success in the win column by removing an injured player from the field of competition then so be it. “Win with humility and lose with grace,” is the common quote many coaches ingrain into their athletes heads. In order to truly fulfill this quote both coaches and athletes alike must have the ability to make safety and the promotion of life lessons the true goal in athletics. A young man or woman’s general health is more important than one run, one touchdown, one basket, or one win. Thus, the education of safety also becomes a life lesson for all. If maintaining the safety of one’s players’ means losing, then coaches and athletes alike should be able to end the game with their heads held high and know that they stuck to the true values of athletic competition.

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