March Madness is upon us, and l would imagine that many folks are tuned in to NCAA basketball games, even if you are not normally a basketball fan. Tournament play, both at the conference level as well as national level, becomes exciting. Many of us adopt a new favorite team, and schools not normally in the spotlight become the potential Cinderella schools of the tournament. As a basketball fan, I admit to getting caught up in the school spirit that is seen on many levels.
As an educator, I’m always looking at various events, such as basketball games, as teachable moments for our kids. It seems that each game offers that on many levels. Sportsmanship and compassion can be found, such as the scene many saw of a player from a winning team consoling a player who had just lost a very close game. Emotions run high, and everyone understands the devastated feeling of having a season end too soon. On the other hand, we see behavior that I wish our kids did not see. The intensity and poor sportsmanship displayed at times are not reflective of the role models we want our students to follow or to be seen on our own school basketball court or athletic field. So we applaud the good and take the opportunity to address the less than desirable.
In a recent posting the coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, Geno Auriemma, spoke about the importance of attitude for his players. Of all their skills, this is the most important one that he looks for in potential players for his extremely successful program. Attitude on the court, on the bench, in the locker room, and on campus, Auriemma feels, affects how a young woman plays on the court. Poor body language and attitude translate to a poor attitude and performance both on and off the court. And that may well be true in just about every situation we find ourselves in. It’s all about attitude and how we respond to situations, whether it’s in conversations, relationships, or team play. A positive attitude translates to a higher degree of success. It sets the tone and leaves one with optimism and an expectation of success in work and in play.
As we watch and cheer on our favorite teams in the next two weeks, I for one will be observing team attitudes both on the court and on the bench. I’m going to watch body language, team spirit, sportsmanship, and attitudes of the players and coaches. I’d like to believe that those with the greatest success will be those with the most positive attitudes, but at the same time, let’s observe those that lose as well. That’s where attitude from coaches and players says it all. Where there is grace and sportsmanship in defeat, there we will likely find the best role models and strength of character. Therein lie the teachable moments for our kids. That’s where true champions can be found.
Head of School